Key Statistics for Childhood Leukemia

Leukemia is the most common cancer in children and teens, accounting for almost 1 out of 3 cancers. Overall, however, childhood leukemia is a rare disease.

About 3 out of 4 leukemias among children and teens are acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Most of the remaining cases are acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

  • ALL is most common in early childhood, peaking between 2 and 5 years of age.
  • AML tends to be more spread out across the childhood years, but it's slightly more common during the first 2 years of life and during the teenage years.
  • ALL is slightly more common among Hispanic and white children than among African-American and Asian-American children, and it is more common in boys than in girls.
  • AML occurs about equally among boys and girls of all races.

Chronic leukemias are rare in children. Most of these are chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), which tends to occur more in teens than in younger children.

Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) is also rare. It usually occurs in young children, with an average age of about 2. It is slightly more common in boys than in girls.

Visit the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Center for more key statistics.

For statistics related to survival, see Survival Rates for Childhood Leukemias.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2019.

Arceci RJ, Meshinchi S. Chapter 20: Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Myelodysplastic Syndromes. In: Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016.

Caywood EH, Kolb EA. Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. UpToDate. 2018. Accessed at www.uptodate.com/contents/juvenile-myelomonocytic-leukemia on November 29, 2018.

Rabin KR, Gramatges MM, Margolin JF, Poplack DG. Chapter 19: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In: Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016.

Rabin KR, Margolin JF, Kamdar KY, Poplack DG. Chapter 100: Leukemias and Lymphomas of Childhood. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

Wei MC, Dahl GV, Weinstein HJ. Chapter 61: Acute Myeloid Leukemia in Children. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, Heslop H, Weitz J, Anastasi J, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Elsevier; 2013.

Last Medical Review: February 12, 2019 Last Revised: February 12, 2019

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