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Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors (also called Central Nervous System)

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for brain and spinal cord tumors in the United States for 2021 include both adults and children.

  • About 24,530 malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord (13,840 in males and 10,690 in females) will be diagnosed. These numbers would be much higher if benign (non-cancer) tumors were also included. 
  • About 18,600 people (10,500 males and 8,100 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 of developing any type of brain or spinal cord tumor is slightly higher among women than among men, although the risk of developing a malignant tumor is slightly higher for men than for women. This is largely because certain types of tumors are more common in one gender or the other (for example, meningiomas are more common in women).

Survival rates for brain and spinal cord tumors vary widely, depending on the type of tumor and other factors.

Sample Scan

Brain Tumor PET

Get Technical! Read the Journal Article 

Categories of peritumoral fiber structures within tumor-infiltrated brain regions.

Molecular imaging is very useful for guiding the management of brain tumors. Physicians use PET studies to define the degree of malignancy, determine the extent of the disease and to detect cancer recurrences.

Researchers hope that new molecular imaging techniques such as PET and MR spectroscopy will allow physicians to increasingly personalize cancer treatment by:

  • providing information on tumor metabolism
  • differentiating between recurrent tumors and treatment-related changes as a result of radiation therapy
  • guiding the precise targeting of radiation to a recurring brain tumor.