Untreated chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) has a reported median survival of only 2 to 3 years. Historically, treatment included oral chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation; however, these treatments had numerous side effects and only moderately prolonged life. The first tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), which specifically targets the BCR-ABL1 oncoprotein, became available in 2000 and has changed the life expectancy of patients with CML.
In order to determine the extent that TKIs have impacted life expectancy, researchers in Sweden used the Swedish Cancer Registry to identify 2662 patients who were diagnosed with CML between 1973 and 2013. Significant improvement in the life expectancy of these patients was observed over the study period, and the greatest improvements were seen in younger patients.
Patients recently diagnosed and treated (in and after 2013) will lose less than 3 life-years of life expectancy. The researchers concluded that life expectancy of patients with CML now approaches that of the general population.
Reference Bower H, Bjorkholm M, Dickman PW, et al. Life expectancy of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia approaches the life expectancy of the general population [published online before print June 20, 2016]. J Clin Oncol.