Medulloblastoma - Childhood: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of children who will be diagnosed with medulloblastoma each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with a 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 are diagnosed with medulloblastoma?

About 500 children in the United States are diagnosed with medulloblastoma each year. About 20% of childhood brain tumors are medulloblastoma, making it the most common cancerous brain tumor in children.

The chance of developing medulloblastoma decreases with age. Most medulloblastomas occur in children between the ages of 1 and 9. Medulloblastoma can also occur in adults, but it is less common.

What is the survival rate for children with medulloblastoma?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a child’s chance of recovery from medulloblastoma. 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 children with medulloblastoma 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) to be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for children with medulloblastoma 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.

The 5-year relative survival rate for medulloblastoma for children age 14 and younger is 72%. The 5-year relative survival rate for teens and young adults ages 15 to 39 is about 78%. The 5-year relative survival rate for people 40 or older is 66%.

The survival rates for children with medulloblastoma vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Another factor that can affect outcomes include the risk level for this disease. Learn more about risk level in the Stages section. Children who are younger than 3 may have a lower survival rate because not all safe and effective treatments can be used in this age group.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for medulloblastoma every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how medulloblastoma 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 Brain Tumor Association website, 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), and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital website. (All sources accessed February 2023.)

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers a drawing of the part of the brain affected by medulloblastoma. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.