Statistics at a Glance

At a Glance

Estimated New Cases in 2021 24,530

% of All New Cancer Cases 1.3%

Estimated Deaths in 2021 18,600

% of All Cancer Deaths 3.1%

5-Year
Relative Survival

32.6% 2011–2017
Year Rate of New Cases — SEER 9 Rate of New Cases — SEER 13 Death Rate — U.S. 5-Year Relative Survival — SEER 9
Observed Modeled Trend Observed Modeled Trend Observed Modeled Trend Observed Modeled Trend
1975 5.85 5.77 - - 4.11 4.14 23.02% 21.82%
1976 5.82 5.86 - - 4.34 4.29 22.32% 22.26%
1977 6.17 5.95 - - 4.40 4.45 22.60% 22.71%
1978 5.76 6.04 - - 4.53 4.42 24.14% 23.16%
1979 6.12 6.13 - - 4.26 4.39 24.22% 23.61%
1980 6.30 6.23 - - 4.37 4.36 23.01% 24.07%
1981 6.51 6.32 - - 4.36 4.33 25.15% 24.52%
1982 6.42 6.42 - - 4.43 4.38 24.33% 24.98%
1983 6.31 6.52 - - 4.39 4.44 23.63% 25.45%
1984 6.12 6.62 - - 4.55 4.50 28.21% 25.91%
1985 6.94 6.72 - - 4.57 4.56 24.95% 26.38%
1986 6.85 6.83 - - 4.53 4.62 28.41% 26.85%
1987 7.01 6.93 - - 4.71 4.68 29.69% 27.32%
1988 6.83 6.92 - - 4.72 4.74 30.16% 27.79%
1989 6.87 6.90 - - 4.73 4.80 28.00% 28.27%
1990 7.05 6.88 - - 4.87 4.86 28.78% 28.74%
1991 6.96 6.87 - - 4.95 4.93 32.45% 29.22%
1992 6.98 6.85 6.80 6.64 4.85 4.88 30.19% 29.70%
1993 6.76 6.84 6.57 6.62 4.79 4.83 31.50% 30.18%
1994 6.63 6.82 6.42 6.60 4.84 4.79 32.47% 30.66%
1995 6.50 6.81 6.30 6.58 4.67 4.74 33.60% 31.15%
1996 6.69 6.79 6.45 6.56 4.73 4.70 32.80% 31.63%
1997 6.77 6.78 6.53 6.55 4.68 4.65 30.55% 32.12%
1998 6.65 6.76 6.54 6.53 4.68 4.61 31.48% 32.60%
1999 6.93 6.75 6.73 6.51 4.64 4.56 32.70% 33.09%
2000 6.82 6.73 6.39 6.49 4.53 4.52 35.14% 33.58%
2001 6.66 6.72 6.34 6.47 4.45 4.47 35.21% 34.06%
2002 6.79 6.70 6.53 6.45 4.45 4.43 36.59% 34.55%
2003 6.68 6.69 6.46 6.44 4.40 4.39 34.57% 35.04%
2004 6.88 6.67 6.55 6.42 4.31 4.35 35.54% 35.53%
2005 6.78 6.66 6.52 6.40 4.34 4.31 35.45% 36.02%
2006 6.46 6.64 6.31 6.38 4.17 4.26 36.27% 36.51%
2007 6.62 6.63 6.47 6.36 4.21 4.22 35.97% 37.00%
2008 6.75 6.61 6.46 6.35 4.28 4.25 36.53% 36.94%
2009 6.87 6.60 6.62 6.33 4.35 4.28 36.95% 36.87%
2010 6.61 6.58 6.31 6.31 4.25 4.30 34.97% 36.80%
2011 6.71 6.57 6.20 6.29 4.25 4.33 34.43% 36.74%
2012 6.56 6.55 6.27 6.27 4.40 4.36 33.89% 36.67%
2013 6.56 6.54 6.31 6.26 4.34 4.38 35.77% 36.61%
2014 6.36 6.52 6.20 6.24 4.43 4.41 - 36.54%
2015 6.66 6.51 6.37 6.22 4.43 4.44 - 36.48%
2016 6.30 6.49 6.01 6.20 4.49 4.46 - 36.41%
2017 6.32 6.48 6.08 6.19 4.39 4.42 - 36.35%
2018 6.33 6.46 6.05 6.17 4.40 4.38 - 36.28%
2019 - - - - 4.33 4.34 - 36.22%

New cases come from SEER 13. Deaths come from U.S. Mortality.
All Races, Both Sexes. Rates are Age-Adjusted.
Modeled trend lines were calculated from the underlying rates using the Joinpoint Trend Analysis Software.

New cases are also referred to as incident cases in other publications. Rates of new cases are also referred to as incidence rates.


Rate of New Cases and Deaths per 100,000: The rate of new cases of brain and other nervous system cancer was 6.4 per 100,000 men and women per year. The death rate was 4.4 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2014–2018 cases and 2015–2019 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 2016–2018 data.

Prevalence of This Cancer: In 2018, there were an estimated 173,438 people living with brain and other nervous system cancer in the United States.

Did You Know? Video Series

Survival Statistics

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

Relative survival is an estimate of the percentage of patients who would be expected to survive the effects of their cancer. It excludes the risk of dying from other causes. 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.

32.6%

5-Year
Relative Survival

32.6%

Based on data from SEER 18 2011–2017. 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.

Survival by Stage

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. For brain and other nervous system cancer, 76.7% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year relative survival for localized brain and other nervous system cancer is 35.3%.

Percent of Cases & 5-Year Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
Stage Percent of Cases 5-Year Relative Survival
Localized
Confined to Primary Site
77% 35.3%
Regional
Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
15% 20.1%
Distant
Cancer Has Metastasized
2% 32.2%
Unknown
Unstaged
6% 29.3%

SEER 18 2011–2017, All Races, Both Sexes by SEER Summary Stage 2000

New Cases and Deaths

How Common Is This Cancer?

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

Rank Common Types of Cancer Estimated New
Cases 2021
Estimated
Deaths 2021
1. Breast Cancer (Female) 281,550 43,600
2. Prostate Cancer 248,530 34,130
3. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 235,760 131,880
4. Colorectal Cancer 149,500 52,980
5. Melanoma of the Skin 106,110 7,180
6. Bladder Cancer 83,730 17,200
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 81,560 20,720
8. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 76,080 13,780
9. Uterine Cancer 66,570 12,940
10. Leukemia 61,090 23,660
- - -
16. Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer 24,530 18,600

Brain and other nervous system cancer represents 1.3% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.

1.3%

In 2021, it is estimated that there will be 24,530 new cases of brain and other nervous system cancer and an estimated 18,600 people will die of this disease.

Who Gets This Cancer?

This cancer is slightly more common in men than women and among those with certain genetic syndromes. The rate of new cases of brain and other nervous system cancer was 6.4 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2014–2018 cases, age-adjusted.

Rate of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
Males
All Races 7.6
White 8.3
Black 4.6
Asian/Pacific Islander 4.5
American Indian/Alaska Native 4.1
Hispanic 5.8
Non-Hispanic 7.9
Females
All Races 5.4
White 6.0
Black 3.3
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.2
American Indian/Alaska Native 2.6
Hispanic 4.5
Non-Hispanic 5.6

SEER 21 2014–2018, Age-Adjusted

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
Age Range Percent of New Cases
<20 11.9%
20–34 8.6%
35–44 7.5%
45–54 12.4%
55–64 20.6%
65–74 20.8%
75–84 13.1%
>84 5.1%

Brain and other nervous system cancer is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 65–74.

Median Age
At Diagnosis

59

SEER 21 2014–2018, All Races, Both Sexes

Who Dies From This Cancer?

Brain and other nervous system cancer is the ninth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The death rate was 4.4 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2015–2019 deaths, age-adjusted.

Death Rate per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
Males
All Races 5.4
White 5.9
Black 3.2
Asian/Pacific Islander 2.7
American Indian/Alaska Native 2.9
Hispanic 3.6
Non-Hispanic 5.6
Females
All Races 3.6
White 3.9
Black 2.2
Asian/Pacific Islander 1.9
American Indian/Alaska Native 2.2
Hispanic 2.7
Non-Hispanic 3.7

U.S. 2015–2019, Age-Adjusted

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer
Age Range Percent of Deaths
<20 3.1%
20–34 3.2%
35–44 4.9%
45–54 11.0%
55–64 23.5%
65–74 27.6%
75–84 18.7%
>84 7.9%

The percent of brain and other nervous system cancer deaths is highest among people aged 65–74.

Median Age
At Death

66

U.S. 2015–2019, All Races, Both Sexes

Trends in Rates

Changes Over Time

Keeping track 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, age-adjusted rates for new brain and other nervous system cancer cases have been falling on average 0.2% each year over 2009–2018. Age-adjusted death rates have been stable over 2010–2019. 5-year relative survival trends are shown below.

Interactive Statistics with SEER*Explorer

With SEER*Explorer, you can...
  • Create custom graphs and tables
  • Download data and images
  • Share links to results

SEER*Explorer is an interactive website that provides easy access to a wide range of SEER cancer statistics. It provides detailed statistics for a cancer site by gender, race, calendar year, age, and for a selected number of cancer sites, by stage and histology.

Explore Additional Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer Statistics

More About This Cancer

Cancer and the Brain

Figure: Brain Anatomy

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

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 SEER*Explorer.

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 Stat Facts: Brain and Other Nervous System Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/brain.html

These stat facts focus on population statistics that are based on the U.S. 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 SEER*Explorer. To see statistics for a specific state, go to the State Cancer Profiles.

The statistics presented in these stat facts are based on the most recent data available, most of which can be found in SEER*Explorer. In some cases, different year spans may be used.

Estimates of new cases and deaths for 2021 are projections made by the American Cancer Society (ACS), based on earlier reported data.

Cancer is a complex topic. There is a wide range of information available. These stat facts do not address causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, or decision making, although links are provided to information in many of these areas.