Brain and other central nervous system cancers: Recent trends in incidence and mortality

Julie M. Legler, Lynn A. Gloeckler Ries, Malcolm A. Smith, Joan L. Warren, Ellen F. Heineman, Richard S. Kaplan, Martha S. Linet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

396 Scopus citations


Background: During the 1980s, the incidence of primary malignant brain and other central nervous system tumors (hereafter called brain cancer) was reported to be increasing among all age groups in the United States, while mortality was declining for persons younger than 65 years. We analyzed these data to provide updates on incidence and mortality trends for brain cancer in the United States and to examine these patterns in search of their causes. Methods: Data on incidence, overall and according to histology and anatomic site, and on relative survival were obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute for 1975 through 1995. Mortality data were obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics. Medicare procedure claims from the National Cancer Institute's SEER-Medicare database were used for imaging trends. Statistically significant changes in incidence trends were identified, and annual percent changes were computed for log linear models. Results/Conclusions: Rates stabilized for all age groups during the most recent period for which SEER data were available, except for the group containing individuals 85 years of age or older. Mortality trends continued to decline for the younger age groups, and the steep increases in mortality seen in the past for the elderly slowed substantially. Patterns differed by age group according to the site and grade of tumors between younger and older patients. During the last decade, use of computed tomography scans was relatively stable for those 65-74 years old but increased among those 85 years old or older. Implications: Improvements in diagnosis and changes in the diagnosis and treatment of elderly patients provide likely explanations for the observed patterns in brain cancer trends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1382-1390
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number16
StatePublished - 18 Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


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