Central Nervous System Tumors (Brain and Spinal Cord) - Childhood: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2021

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of children and adolescents who are diagnosed with a CNS 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.

Approximately 3,460 brain and other CNS tumors will be diagnosed this year in children ages 0 to 14 in the United States. After leukemia, brain and other CNS tumors are the second most common childhood cancers, accounting for about 27% of cancer in children younger than 15.

As explained in the Introductionthere are several types of CNS tumors diagnosed in children, and survival rates are different for each. The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of children live at least 5 years after the tumor is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for children with a CNS tumor, excluding benign brain tumors, is 74%. The 5-year survival rate for teens ages 15 to 19 is 76%. However, the survival rate for a CNS tumor depends on many factors, including the type of tumor diagnosed and its stage (see Stages and Grades).

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for children with a CNS tumor are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of children with this cancer 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. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Read more about statistics for a specific type of CNS tumor. For example, review the Statistics section in Cancer.Net’s guide to astrocytoma, if that is the specific diagnosis.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2021, 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 2013–2017, published October 2020. Additional source was Seigel R, et al.: Cancer Statistics 2021. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2021 Jan; 71(1):7-33. doi/full/10.3322/caac.21654  (sources accessed January 2021).

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by a childhood CNS tumor. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.