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Facts and Statistics

Brain Tumors do not discriminate. Primary brain tumors – those that begin in the brain and tend to stay in the brain – occur in people of all ages, but they are statistically more frequent in children and older adults. Metastatic brain tumors – those that begin as a cancer elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain – are more common in adults than children.

Brain tumors are the:

  • second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children (males and females) under age 20 (leukemia is the first).
  • second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males ages 20-39 (leukemia is the first).
  • fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in females ages 20-39.

The facts and statistics here include brain and central nervous system tumors (including spinal cord, pituitary and pineal gland tumors). We continually update these statistics, as they become available. This material was last updated in November 2012. We thank the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS) for their assistance with that update.

These numbers address incidence, trends and patterns in the United States only. For more information, please visit CBTRUS at

Incidence Statistics

An estimated 69,720 new cases of primary brain tumors are expected to be diagnosed in 2013 and includes both malignant (24,620) and non-malignant (45,100) brain tumors. These estimates are based on an application of age-sex-race-specific incidence rates from the 2013 CBTRUS Statistical Report using SEER and NPCR data to project 2013 US population estimates for the respective age-sex-race groups (estimation methodology can be found at

In 2013, approximately 4,300 children younger than age 20 will be diagnosed with primary brain tumors, of which 3,050 will be under age 15.

Prevalence Statistics

It is estimated that during the year 2010 more than 688,096 people in the United States were living with the diagnosis of a primary brain or central nervous system tumor. Specifically, more than 138,054 persons were living with a malignant tumor and more than 550,042 persons were living with a non-malignant tumor.

For every 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 221 are living following the diagnosis of a brain tumor. This represents a prevalence rate of 221.8 per 100,000 persons.

Tumor-Specific Statistics

  • Meningiomas represent 34% of all primary brain tumors, making them the most common primary brain tumor.
  • Gliomas, a broad term which includes all tumors arising from the gluey or supportive tissue of the brain, represent 30% of all brain tumors and 80% of all malignant tumors.
  • Glioblastomas represent 17% of all primary brain tumors, and 54% of all gliomas.
  • Astrocytomas represent 7% of all primary brain tumors.
  • Astrocytomas and glioblastomas combined represent 76% of all gliomas.
  • Nerve sheath tumors (such as acoustic neuromas) represent about 9% of all primary brain tumors.
  • Pituitary tumors represent 13% of all primary brain tumors.
  • Lymphomas represent 2% of all primary brain tumors.
  • Oligodendrogliomas represent 2% of all primary brain tumors.
  • Medulloblastomas/embryonal/primitive tumors represent 1% of all primary brain tumors.
  • The majority of primary tumors (34%) are located within the meninges, followed by those located within the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes of the brain (22%).

Metastatic brain tumors are the most common brain tumor. Although statistics for brain metastases are not readily available, it is estimated that there are more metastatic than primary malignant brain tumors per year.

The cancers that most commonly metastasize to the brain are lung and breast.