Brain Tumor Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

A brain tumor, or intracranial tumor, is an accumulation of abnormal cells that grow uncontrollably within the brain. There are many different types of brain tumors, and treating it will depend on the type of brain tumor. Tumors can also originate within the brain or be "secondary" tumors that start in other body parts and spread to brain tissues.

This article will review the facts you need to know about brain tumors.

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Brain Tumor Overview

There are over 150 types of brain tumors.

Brain tumors can fall into two categories:

  • Benign: a noncancerous tumor that does not spread to nearby tissues or invade other parts of the body
  • Malignant: a tumor with cancerous cells that can spread—or metastasize—to other areas of the brain or body. Malignant brain tumors often grow more quickly and uncontrollably than benign tumors

A brain tumor is a serious condition whether it is benign or malignant. Tumors within the skull grow and put pressure on different parts of the brain, affecting their functioning. For this reason, even benign brain tumors are often surgically removed.

Brain tumors can also be categorized as primary or secondary:

  • Primary: tumors that start in the brain
  • Secondary: tumors that start in another part of the body but spread—or metastasize—to the brain

Metastatic tumor cells generally spread through the blood or the lymphatic system to reach other areas of the body.

How Common Are Brain Tumors?

Malignant and non-malignant brain tumors affect 23–24 people out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. Glioblastoma is the most commonly occurring type of malignant brain tumor and accounts for about 14.5% of total tumors.

Meningioma is the most commonly reported non-malignant—or benign—brain tumor, accounting for about 38.3% of total brain tumors.

In children and adolescents between 0 and 19 years of age, brain tumors affect about 6.14 out of 100,000 people. An estimated 700,000 people in the U.S. have a primary brain tumor, and approximately 88,970 more will be diagnosed in 2022.

Brain Tumors by Ethnicity

Brain tumors affect people of all ethnicities. Out of every 100,000 people diagnosed with a primary brain tumor in the U.S:

  • 24.58 are African American
  • 24.24 are White
  • 22.12 are Hispanic or Latino
  • 19.52 are Asian or Pacific Islander American
  • 14.63 are American Indian or Alaskan Native

Brain Tumors by Age and Gender

Brain tumors affect people of all ages, ethnicities, and genders. Fortunately, most brain tumors (about 71%) are benign, while 29% are malignant.

Also, brain tumors occur more commonly in females (58%) versus males (about 42%). However, it is essential to note that some types of brain tumors are found more commonly in one gender. For example:

  • Men are 60% more likely to develop a glioblastoma than females.
  • Women are 2.5 times more likely to develop a meningioma than men.

About 5,000 children will receive a brain or central nervous system (CNS) tumor diagnosis each year. About 4% of all brain tumor cases diagnosed yearly occur in children under 14.

Causes of Brain Tumors and Risk Factors

In most cases, a brain tumor has no known cause. However, many factors might increase a person's risk of developing a brain tumor, such as:

  • Age (brain tumors are more common in children and older adults)
  • Exposure to toxins such as pesticides, oil products, or vinyl chloride
  • About 5% of brain tumors may be hereditary
  • Ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, may increase the risk
  • Head injuries
  • Seizures
  • Exposure to some infections, viruses, or allergens

What Are the Mortality Rates for Brain Tumors?

Brain tumors and other types of nervous system cancers are the 10th leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S.

About 18,280 adults die from primary malignant brain tumors annually in the U.S.

Brain tumor survival rates depend on many factors, such as the type of tumor, the patient's age and overall health status, and which treatments are used, among others. A survival rate is defined as the percentage of people who survive a disease such as cancer for a specified amount of time but is often presented in many different ways.

For example, the five-year survival rate for glioblastoma is estimated at about 6.8%. The average length of survival for glioblastoma patients is about eight months. However, for another type of noncancerous brain tumor—a meningioma—the five-year survival rate is 97% for people ages 15–29 and over 98% for adults over 40.

It is important to remember that statistics for any type of brain tumor's survival rates are educated estimates. It is imperative to communicate with your healthcare provider regarding an individual prognosis.

Screening and Early Detection

Early screening and detection can help with the overall survival or remission/recovery of brain tumors. Contact your healthcare provider if you or a loved one experiences symptoms related to a brain tumor.

Tests used to diagnose a brain tumor include:

Treatment options may include:

  • Watchful waiting (used for noncancerous tumors)
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy with drugs or other substances to shrink cancer cells

Many patients receive a combination of therapies to treat their specific type of tumor.


There are more than 150 types of brain tumors. These tumors can be benign or malignant and begin in the brain or travel to the brain from other parts of the body. No matter what type of brain tumor occurs, it can grow and put pressure on different parts of the brain, affecting their functioning. For this reason, even benign brain tumors are considered serious and are often surgically removed.

Brain tumors affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. In most cases, a brain tumor has no known cause. However, many factors may increase someone's risk for developing a brain tumor, such as age, gender, exposure to toxins, genetics, head injuries, or exposure to infections, viruses, or allergens.

A Word From Verywell

Brain tumors are a serious health issue. Early screening and detection can help with the overall survival or remission and recovery of brain tumors. Contact a healthcare provider specializing in brain tumor treatment and management if you or a loved one receives a diagnosis.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Sarah Jividen, RN
Sarah Jividen, RN, BSN, is a freelance healthcare journalist and content marketing writer at Health Writing Solutions, LLC. She has over a decade of direct patient care experience working as a registered nurse specializing in neurotrauma, stroke, and the emergency room.