Brain Stem Glioma - Childhood: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of children and adolescents who will be diagnosed with brain stem glioma each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with tumor are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this tumor and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for your child individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many children and adolescents are diagnosed with brain stem glioma?

In 2023, approximately 3,920 brain and other central nervous system (CNS) tumors will be diagnosed in children ages 0 to 14 in the United States. After leukemia, CNS tumors are the second most common childhood cancers/tumors, accounting for about 26% of cases in children younger than 15.

An estimated 13% of all childhood CNS tumors are found in the brain stem. Approximately 75% of childhood brain stem gliomas are in the pons.

What is the survival rate for brain stem glioma?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from brain stem glioma. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having a tumor may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with brain stem glioma are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this tumor.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for childhood brain stem glioma are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if the tumor will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

About 3 in 4 children with all types of brain tumors combined survive at least 5 years after diagnosis. The survival rates for brain stem glioma vary based on several factors, including the grade of the brain stem glioma as either diffuse or focal. Other factors include the specific location of the tumor, a child’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Talk with your child’s doctor to learn more.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for brain stem glioma every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how brain stem glioma is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2023, the ACS website, and the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States Statistical Report: Primary Brain and Other Central Nervous System Tumors Diagnosed in the United States in 2015–2019 (published October 2022). (All sources accessed February 2023.)

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of the brain stem and surrounding structures. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.