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 23,820 adults (13,410 men and 10,410 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary cancerous tumors of the brain and spinal cord. Brain tumors account for 85% to 90% of all primary CNS tumors.
Also, about 3,720 children under the age of 15 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 bladder, breast, kidney, 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 men and women. It is estimated that 17,760 adults (9,910 men and 7,850 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 a cancerous brain or CNS tumor is approximately 34% for men and 36% for women. However, survival rates vary widely and depend 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 2018 Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States Fact Sheet, the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2019, and the National Cancer Institute (January 2019).
The next section in this guide is Risk Factors. It explains the factors that may increase the chance of developing a brain tumor. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.