SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer

Mortality and lifetime risk have not been updated to include 2011 data (view details).

Statistics at a GlanceShow More

At a Glance

  • Estimated New Cases in 2014 23,380
  • % of All New Cancer Cases1.4%
  • Estimated Deaths in 2014 14,320
  • % of All
    Cancer Deaths
    2.4%

Percent Surviving
5 Years

33.4% 2004-2010

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 2007-2011 cases and 2006-2010 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 2008-2010 data.

Prevalence of this cancer: In 2011, there were an estimated 144,463 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.

33.4%

Percent Surviving
5 Years

33.4%

Based on data from SEER 18 2004-2010. 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, 76.3% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year survival for localized brain and other nervous system cancer is 36.6%.

Percent of Cases & 5-Year Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
Percent of Cases by Stage
  • Localized (76%)
    Confined to Primary Site
  • Regional (16%)
    Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
  • Distant (2%)
    Cancer Has Metastasized
  • Unknown (5%)
    Unstaged
76% localized; 16% regional; 2% distant; 5% unknown
5-Year Relative Survival
36.6% localized; 21.4% regional; 35.6% distant; 22.8% unstaged

SEER 18 2004-2010, 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 2014
Estimated
Deaths 2014
1. Prostate Cancer 233,000 29,480
2. Breast Cancer (Female) 232,670 40,000
3. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 224,210 159,260
4. Colon and Rectum Cancer 136,830 50,310
5. Melanoma of the Skin 76,100 9,710
6. Bladder Cancer 74,690 15,580
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 70,800 18,990
8. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 63,920 13,860
9. Thyroid Cancer 62,980 1,890
10. Endometrial Cancer 52,630 8,590
- - -
15. Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer 23,380 14,320

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

1.4%

In 2014, it is estimated that there will be 23,380 new cases of brain and other nervous system cancer and an estimated 14,320 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 2007-2011 cases.

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
13.1% under 20; 8.9% 20-34; 8.4% 35-44; 14.8% 45-54; 19.7% 55-64; 17.0% 65-74; 13.3% 75-84; 4.8% 85 and older

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

Median Age
At Diagnosis

57

SEER 18 2007-2011, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
MalesFemales
  • Male 7.6All RacesFemale 5.4
  • Male 8.4WhiteFemale 6.0
  • Male 4.7BlackFemale 3.6
  • Male 4.2Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 2.9
  • Male 3.9American Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 2.8
  • Male 5.8HispanicFemale 4.5
  • Male 8.0Non-HispanicFemale 5.6

SEER 18 2007-2011, 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 2006-2010 deaths.

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
3.8% under 20; 3.6% 20-34; 6.1% 35-44; 14.4% 45-54; 22.9% 55-64; 22.7% 65-74; 19.3% 75-84; 7.2% 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. 2006-2010, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of Deaths per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
MalesFemales
  • Male 5.2All RacesFemale 3.5
  • Male 5.6WhiteFemale 3.8
  • Male 3.0BlackFemale 2.1
  • Male 2.3Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 1.6
  • Male 2.8American Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 2.3
  • Male 3.3HispanicFemale 2.4
  • Male 5.4Non-HispanicFemale 3.6

U.S. 2006-2010, 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 2002-2011. Death rates have been stable over 2001-2010. 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's National Center for Health Statistics. Most can be found within:

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Garshell J, Neyman N, Altekruse SF, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Cho H, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2011, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2011/, based on November 2013 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2014.

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.