Pituitary Gland Tumor: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with a pituitary gland tumor 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 you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with a pituitary gland tumor?

Because the pituitary gland is located next to the brain, this type of tumor is sometimes classified as a “brain tumor” in data collection, including by the World Health Organization.

About 13,900 pituitary gland tumors will be diagnosed in the United States in 2023, making up about 17% of all primary brain tumors. Less than 0.2% of pituitary gland tumors diagnosed this year will be cancerous.

Older adults are more likely to be diagnosed with this type of tumor, but it can occur at any age. When a person aged 15 to 19 has a brain tumor, a pituitary gland tumor is a common subtype diagnosis (more than 33% of brain tumors in this age group). Women are more likely to develop these tumors than men. This type of tumor is also more likely to develop in Black people than White people.

What is the survival rate for a pituitary gland tumor?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from a pituitary gland tumor. 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 people with a pituitary gland tumor 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) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with a pituitary gland tumor 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 all pituitary gland tumors is 97%. For people with cancerous pituitary gland tumors, the 5-year relative survival rate is over 81%.

The survival rates for a pituitary gland tumor vary based on several factors. These include the stage of tumor, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for a pituitary gland tumor every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how a pituitary gland 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 website 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 2015–2019 (published October 2022). (All sources accessed March 2023.)

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