Global burden of hematologic malignancies


Photo by Rhoda Baer

Cancer patient receiving chemotherapy

Research has shown an increase in the global incidence of leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in recent years.

The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study showed that, from 2006 to 2016, the incidence of NHL increased 45%, and the incidence of leukemia increased 26%.

These increases were largely due to population growth and aging.

Results from the GDB study were published in JAMA Oncology.

The study indicated that, in 2016, there were 17.2 million cases of cancer worldwide and 8.9 million cancer deaths.

One in 3 men were likely to get cancer during their lifetime, as were 1 in 5 women. Cancer was associated with 213.2 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

The following table lists the 2016 global incidence and mortality figures for all cancers combined and for individual hematologic malignancies.

Cancer type Cases, thousands Deaths, thousands
All cancers 17,228 8927
Leukemias 467 310
Acute lymphoid leukemia 76 51
Chronic lymphoid leukemia 105 35
Acute myeloid leukemia 103 85
Chronic myeloid leukemia 32 22
Other leukemias 150 117
Hodgkin lymphoma 73 29
NHL 461 240
Multiple myeloma 139 98


In 2016, there were 467,000 new cases of leukemia and 310,000 leukemia deaths. Leukemia was responsible for 10.2 million DALYs. Leukemia developed in 1 in 118 men and 1 in 194 women worldwide.

Between 2006 and 2016, the global leukemia incidence increased by 26%—from 370,482 to 466,802 cases.

The researchers said the factors contributing to this increase were population growth (12%), population aging (10%), and an increase in age-specific incidence rates (3%).


In 2016, there were 461,000 new cases of NHL and 240,000 NHL deaths. NHL was responsible for 6.8 million DALYs. NHL developed in 1 in 110 men and 1 in 161 women worldwide.

Between 2006 and 2016, NHL increased by 45%, from 319,078 to 461,164 cases.

The factors contributing to this increase were increasing age-specific incidence rates (17%), changing population age structure (15%), and population growth (12%).

“A large proportion of the increase in cancer incidence can be explained by improving life expectancy and population growth—a development that can at least partially be attributed to a reduced burden from other common diseases,” the study authors wrote.

The authors also pointed out that prevention efforts are less effective for hematologic malignancies than for other cancers.

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