Objective: To evaluate temporal trends in survival and causes of death in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in a nationwide study. Methods: The cohort consisted of 13,009 Swedish CLL patients diagnosed 1982–2013. Relative survival (RS) and excess mortality rate ratios (EMRR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were estimated using flexible parametric survival models. Cause-specific hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated for the linear effect of 10-year increase in year of diagnosis. Results: The excess mortality decreased comparing 2003–2013 to 1982–1992 (EMRR = 0.53, 95% CI 0.48–0.58). The 5-year RS increased between 1982 and 2012 for patients >51 years at diagnosis and improved for patients ≤51 years after 2002. The rate of CLL-specific deaths decreased over time (HR = 0.78, 95% CI 0.75–0.81). Compared to patients with no comorbidity, patients with 1 and 2+ Charlson Comorbidity Index points had HR = 1.35 (95% CI 1.25–1.45) and HR = 1.47 (95% CI 1.37–1.57) for CLL-related mortality, respectively. Conclusion: Survival in CLL patients improved in the era of chemoimmunotherapy, and this was largely explained by reduced CLL-related mortality. The increased rate of CLL-related mortality in patients with comorbidities emphasizes the importance of the newer and better tolerated targeted therapy.
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