Quick Brain Tumor Facts

Today, an estimated 700,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor, and over 86,000 more will be diagnosed in 2019. Brain tumors can be deadly, significantly impact quality of life, and change everything for a patient and their loved ones. They do not discriminate, inflicting men, women, and children of all races and ethnicities.


  • An estimated 700,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor
    • 69.1% tumors are benign
    • 30.1% tumors are malignant
  • An estimated 86,970 people will receive a primary brain tumor diagnosis in 2019
    • 60,800 will be benign
    • 26,170 will be malignant
  • The average survival rate for all malignant brain tumor patients is only 35%
    • Male: 33.8%
    • Female: 36.4%
    • For the most common form of primary malignant brain tumors, glioblastoma multiforme, the five-year relative survival rate is only 5.6%
  • An estimated 16,830 people will die from malignant brain tumors (brain cancer) in 2019


  • The most prevalent brain tumor types in adults:
    • Meningiomas, which make-up 37.1% of all primary brain tumors
    • Gliomas (such as glioblastoma, ependymomas, astrocytomas, and oligodendrogliomas), which make-up 81% of malignant brain tumors


  • More than 28,000 children (0-19 years of age) are estimated to be living with a brain tumor in the US
  • An estimated 3,720 new cases of childhood (0 – 14) primary malignant and nonmalignant brain and CNS tumors are expected to be diagnosed in 2019
  • The average survival rate for all primary pediatric (0-19 years of age) malignant brain tumors is 74.1%
  • Brain and CNS tumors are the most prevalent form of pediatric cancer in kids under 19
  • Pediatric brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related death among children and adolescents ages 0-19, surpassing leukemia.
  • It is estimated that, in 2009, a total of 47,631.5 years of potential life were lost due to brain tumors in children 0-19 years old
  • The most prevalent brain tumor types in children (0-14):
    • Pilocytic Astrocytoma
    • Malignant Glioma
    • Medulloblastoma
    • Neuronal and mixed neuronal-glial tumors
    • Ependymoma


  • The median age at diagnosis is 60
  • More than any other cancer, brain tumors can have lasting and life-altering physical, cognitive, and psychological impacts on a patient’s life.
    • This means malignant brain tumors can often be described as equal parts neurological disease and deadly cancer.
  • Even benign brain tumors can be deadly if they interfere with portions of the brain responsible for vital bodily functions.
  • There are more than 130 different types of brain tumors, many with their own multitude of subtypes.
  • Despite the amount of brain tumors, and their devastating prognosis, there have only been four (4) FDA approved drugs – and one device – to treat brain tumors in the past 30 years.
    • For many tumor types, surgery and radiation remain the standard of care.
    • There has never been a drug developed and approved specifically for malignant pediatric brain tumors.
    • The four approved drugs for brain tumors have provided only incremental improvements to patient survival, and mortality rates remain little changed over the past 30 years.
  • Between 1998 and 2014, there were 78 investigational brain tumor drugs that entered the clinical trial evaluation process. 75 failed. That is a 25:1 failure ratio in developing new brain tumor treatments over the past two decades.[1]
  • Brain tumors have the highest per-patient initial cost of care for any cancer group, with an annualized mean net costs of care in 2010 US dollars at well over $100,000.[2]
  • While, there is no official accounting of, and some significant disagreement regarding, the amount of cancer cases each year that metastasize to the brain. Estimates range on the low end from approximately ~56,000 cases to ~500,000 on the high-end of cancer patients developing brain metastases annually.
    • Studies have cited that the percentage of cancer patients who will develop brain metastases is anywhere from 6-28%.
    • What we do know is that approximately 80% of cancers have been associated with the ability to metastasize to the brain.

These include, melanoma (where nearly 50% of cases will metastasize to the brain), lung, breast, renal, and colorectal.

***Brain Tumor Facts data collected by Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS) in CBTRUS Statistical Facts Report of Primary Brain and Other Central Nervous System Tumors Diagnosed in the United States. (www.cbtrus.org)

[1] “Researching Cancer: Setbacks and Stepping Stones,” PhRMA, 2014

[2] J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 Jan 19; 103(2): 117–128.