Brain Tumor: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2017

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

A primary brain or spinal cord tumor is a tumor that starts in the brain or spinal cord. This year, an estimated 23,880 adults (13,720 men and 10,160 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary cancerous tumors of the brain and spinal cord this year. Brain tumors account for 85% to 90% of all primary CNS tumors.

Also, about 3,560 children will be diagnosed with a brain or CNS tumor this year. This rest of this guide deals with adult primary brain tumors. Learn about brain tumors in children.

In addition to primary brain tumors, there are also secondary brain tumors or brain metastases. This is when the tumor started somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain. The most common cancers that spread to the brain are bladderbreastkidney, and lung cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, and melanoma. This guide covers primary adult brain tumors only.

Brain and other nervous system cancer is the 10th leading cause of death for women. It is estimated that 16,830 adults (9,490 men and 7,340 women) will die from primary cancerous brain and CNS tumors this year.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the tumor is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for people with cancerous brain or CNS tumors is 34% for men and 36% for women. However, survival rates vary widely and depends on several factors, including the type of brain or spinal cord tumor. Talk with your doctor about what to expect with your diagnosis.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with a brain tumor are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this tumor in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. People should talk with their doctor if they have questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States; the National Cancer Institute; and the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2018.

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors. It explains what factors may increase the chance of developing a brain tumor. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.