Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a disease of the elderly, and despite major advances in treatment, remains incurable. The Cancer Registry of Norway has registered data on patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia since 1953. We aimed to analyze trends in incidence and survival of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in Norway. We identified 7664 patients reported with chronic lymphocytic leukemia to the registry between 1953 and 2012. We gathered information on sex, age at diagnosis, date of death and basis for diagnosis. The age-standardized incidence increased from 0.6/100.000 person-years in 1953 to 3.1/100,000 person-years in 2012. We found a significant decrease in median age between 1993–2002 and 2003–2012 (75 vs. 72 years, 95%CI: 2.52–3.98, P < 0.001). Men were diagnosed at a significantly younger age than women. Immunophenotyping has become the most important diagnostic method after 2002. Median observed survival increased from 3 years in 1952–1963 to 8.5 years in 2003–2012. Five- and 10-year age-standardized net survival increased throughout the whole period across age groups and reached 79% and 57%, respectively. Median observed survival was significantly shorter in men than in women in 1993–2002 (4.9 vs. 6.1 years, P < 0.001). The gap between survival rates for men and women was diminishing in 2003–2012 in patients younger than 60 years while it remained considerable in older patients. Despite an aging Norwegian population, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients become younger at diagnosis. A fourfold increase in incidence, a prolonged survival, and major changes in diagnostic methods in Norway were observed.
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