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How common are brain and spinal cord tumors in children?
Brain and spinal cord tumors are the second most common cancers in children (after leukemia). They account for about 1 out of 4 childhood cancers. More than 4,000 brain and spinal cord tumors are diagnosed each year in children and teens. The incidence rate (number of tumors per 100,000 children) has not changed much in recent years.
Malignant (fast-growing) brain and spinal cord tumors are slightly more common in boys, while non-malignant tumors are slightly more common in girls.
Survival rates for children with brain and spinal cord tumors
About 3 out of 4 children with brain tumors (all types combined) survive at least 5 years after being diagnosed. But the outlook can vary a great deal based on the type of tumor, where it is, and other factors. For survival information on some particular tumor types, see Survival Rates for Selected Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified 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 2023. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2023.
Noone AM, Howlader N, Krapcho M, et al (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2015, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2015/, based on November 2017 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2018.
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 2010-2014. Neuro Oncol. 2017;18(s5):iv1-iv89.
Last Revised: January 12, 2023
American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.
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