SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer

Statistics at a GlanceShow More

At a Glance

  • Estimated New Cases in 2015 22,850
  • % of All New Cancer Cases1.4%
  • Estimated Deaths in 2015 15,320
  • % of All
    Cancer Deaths
    2.6%

Percent Surviving
5 Years

33.3% 2005-2011

Number of New Cases and Deaths per 100,000: The number of new cases of brain and other nervous system cancer was 6.4 per 100,000 men and women per year. The number of deaths was 4.3 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2008-2012 cases and deaths.

Lifetime Risk of Developing Cancer: Approximately 0.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with brain and other nervous system cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2010-2012 data.

Prevalence of This Cancer: In 2012, there were an estimated 148,818 people living with brain and other nervous system cancer in the United States.

Survival StatisticsShow More

How Many People Survive 5 Years Or More after Being Diagnosed with Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer?

Relative survivalExternal Web Site Policy statistics compare the survival of patients diagnosed with cancer with the survival of people in the general population who are the same age, race, and sex and who have not been diagnosed with cancer. Because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly.

33.3%

Percent Surviving
5 Years

33.3%

Based on data from SEER 18 2005-2011. Gray figures represent those who have died from brain and other nervous system cancer. Green figures represent those who have survived 5 years or more.

Additional Information

Cancer stage at diagnosis, which refers to extent of a cancer in the body, determines treatment options and has a strong influence on the length of survival. In general, if the cancer is found only in the part of the body where it started it is localized (sometimes referred to as stage 1). If it has spread to a different part of the body, the stage is regional or distant. The earlier brain and other nervous system cancer is caught, the better chance a person has of surviving five years after being diagnosed. For brain and other nervous system cancer, 76.6% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year survival for localized brain and other nervous system cancer is 36.3%.

Percent of Cases & 5-Year Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
Percent of Cases by Stage
  • Localized (77%)
    Confined to Primary Site
  • Regional (16%)
    Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
  • Distant (2%)
    Cancer Has Metastasized
  • Unknown (5%)
    Unstaged
77% localized; 16% regional; 2% distant; 5% unknown
5-Year Relative Survival
36.3% localized; 21.7% regional; 37.4% distant; 23.3% unstaged

SEER 18 2005-2011, All Races, Both Sexes by SEER Summary Stage 2000

Additional Information

Number of New Cases and DeathsShow More

How Common Is This Cancer?

Compared to other cancers, brain and other nervous system cancer is relatively rare.

Common Types of Cancer Estimated New
Cases 2015
Estimated
Deaths 2015
1. Breast Cancer (Female) 231,840 40,290
2. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 221,200 158,040
3. Prostate Cancer 220,800 27,540
4. Colon and Rectum Cancer 132,700 49,700
5. Bladder Cancer 74,000 16,000
6. Melanoma of the Skin 73,870 9,940
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 71,850 19,790
8. Thyroid Cancer 62,450 1,950
9. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 61,560 14,080
10. Endometrial Cancer 54,870 10,170
- - -
16. Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer 22,850 15,320

Brain and other nervous system cancer represents 1.4% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.

1.4%

In 2015, it is estimated that there will be 22,850 new cases of brain and other nervous system cancer and an estimated 15,320 people will die of this disease.

This cancer is slightly more common in men than women and among those with certain genetic syndromes. The number of new cases of brain and other nervous system cancer was 6.4 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2008-2012 cases.

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
12.9% under 20; 9.0% 20-34; 8.1% 35-44; 14.3% 45-54; 20.1% 55-64; 17.4% 65-74; 13.2% 75-84; 5.0% 85 and older

Brain and other nervous system cancer is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 55-64.

Median Age
At Diagnosis

58

SEER 18 2008-2012, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
MalesFemales
  • Male 7.7All RacesFemale 5.4
  • Male 8.4WhiteFemale 5.9
  • Male 4.9BlackFemale 3.6
  • Male 4.3Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 3.1
  • Male 3.7American Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 2.7
  • Male 5.8HispanicFemale 4.2
  • Male 8.1Non-HispanicFemale 5.7

SEER 18 2008-2012, Age-Adjusted

Brain and other nervous system cancer is the eleventh leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The number of deaths was 4.3 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2008-2012 deaths.

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
3.7% under 20; 3.5% 20-34; 5.7% 35-44; 13.9% 45-54; 23.7% 55-64; 23.4% 65-74; 18.6% 75-84; 7.4% 85 and older

The percent of brain and other nervous system cancer deaths is highest among people aged 55-64.

Median Age
At Death

64

U.S. 2008-2012, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of Deaths per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
MalesFemales
  • Male 5.3All RacesFemale 3.5
  • Male 5.7WhiteFemale 3.8
  • Male 3.1BlackFemale 2.1
  • Male 2.4Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 1.6
  • Male 3.2American Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 1.9
  • Male 3.4HispanicFemale 2.4
  • Male 5.5Non-HispanicFemale 3.6

U.S. 2008-2012, Age-Adjusted

Trends in RatesShow More

Changes Over Time

Keeping track of the number of new cases, deaths, and survival over time (trends) can help scientists understand whether progress is being made and where additional research is needed to address challenges, such as improving screening or finding better treatments.

Using statistical models for analysis, rates for new brain and other nervous system cancer cases have been falling on average 0.2% each year over the last 10 years. Death rates have not changed significantly over 2002-2012. 5-year survival trends are shown below the figure.

More About This CancerShow More

Cancer and the Brain

Drawing of brain anatomy showing the brain stem, pons, medulla, spinal cord, cerebellum, cerebrum, meninges, ventricles (fluid-filled spaces), and skull.
Figure: Brain Anatomy
Click to enlarge.

There are many types of brain and spinal cord tumors. Together, the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS).

The tumors may be either benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Tumors that start in the brain are called primary brain tumors.

Primary brain tumors may spread to other parts of the brain or to the spine, but they rarely spread to other parts of the body. Often, tumors found in the brain have started somewhere else in the body and spread to one or more parts of the brain. These are called metastatic brain tumors (or brain metastases). Metastatic brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors.

Additional Information

More Information

Here are some resources for learning more about brain and central nervous system (CNS) cancer.

References

All statistics in this report are based on statistics from SEER and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Most can be found within:

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Garshell J, Miller D, Altekruse SF, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z,Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2012, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2012/, based on November 2014 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2015.

Suggested Citation

All material in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission; citation as to source, however, is appreciated.

SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/brain.html

This factsheet focuses on population statistics that are based on the US population. Because these statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. To see tailored statistics, browse the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. To see statistics for a specific state, go to the State Cancer ProfilesExternal Web Site Policy.

The statistics presented in this factsheet are based on the most recent data available, most of which can be found in the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. In some cases, different year spans may be used. Estimates for the current year are based on past data.

Cancer is a complex topic. There is a wide range of information available. This factsheet does not address causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, or decision making, although it provides links to information in many of these areas.