Brain Tumor: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2022

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 25,050 adults (14,170 men and 10,880 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary cancerous tumors of the brain and spinal cord. A person’s likelihood of developing this type of tumor in their lifetime is less than 1%. Brain tumors account for 85% to 90% of all primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors. Worldwide, an estimated 308,102 people were diagnosed with a primary brain or spinal cord tumor in 2020.

About 4,170 children under the age of 15 will also be diagnosed with a brain or CNS tumor this year in the United States. The rest of this guide deals with primary brain tumors in adults. Learn more 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 breast, kidney, and lung cancers, as well as 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 18,280 adults in the United States (10,710 men and 7,570 women) will die from primary cancerous brain and CNS tumors this year. Worldwide, an estimated 251,329 people died from primary cancerous brain and CNS tumors in 2020.

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 in the United States with a cancerous brain or CNS tumor is almost 36%. The 10-year survival rate is almost 31%.

Age is a factor in general survival rates after a cancerous brain or CNS tumor is diagnosed. The 5-year survival rate for people younger than age 15 is about 75%. For people age 15 to 39, the 5-year survival rate nears 72%. The 5-year survival rate for people age 40 and over is 21%. 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. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how a brain tumor is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2022; the ACS website; the CBTRUS Statistical Report: Primary Brain and Other Central Nervous System Tumors Diagnosed in the United States in 2014-2018, published October 2021; the International Agency for Research on Cancer website; and the National Cancer Institute website. (All sources accessed January 2022.)

The next section in this guide is Risk FactorsIt describes 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.