Key Statistics for Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for brain and spinal cord tumors in the United States for 2017 include both adults and children.

  • About 23,800 malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord (13,450 in males and 10,350 in females) will be diagnosed. These numbers would be much higher if benign tumors were also included.
  • About 16,700 people (9,620 males and 7,080 females) will die from brain and spinal cord tumors.

Overall, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in his or her lifetime is less than 1%. The risk for men (about 1 in 140) is slightly higher than that for women (about 1 in 190), although certain types of tumors are more common in women.

Survival rates for brain and spinal cord tumors vary widely, depending on the type of tumor (and other factors). Rates for some of the more common types of brain and spinal cord tumors are discussed in Survival Rates for Selected Adult Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors.

Visit the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Center for more key statistics.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2017. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2017.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2014, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2014/, based on November 2016 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2017.

Ostrom QT, Gittleman H, Xu J, et al. CBTRUS statistical report: Primary brain and other central nervous system tumors diagnosed in the United States in 2009-2013. Neuro Oncol. 2016;18 Suppl 5:v1−v75.

Last Medical Review: March 5, 2014 Last Revised: January 5, 2017

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