Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 153–160 | Cite as

Trends in childhood brain tumor incidence, 1973–2009

  • Roberta McKean-Cowdin
  • Pedram Razavi
  • Jessica Barrington-Trimis
  • Rachel Tobias Baldwin
  • Shahab Asgharzadeh
  • Myles Cockburn
  • Tarik Tihan
  • Susan Preston-Martin
Laboratory Investigation


In the mid-1980s, there was a rise in incidence rates of childhood brain tumors (CBT) in the United States that appeared to stabilize at a higher rate in the early 1990s. An updated analysis of the pattern of CBT over the past 2 decades, with commentary on whether the elevated incidence rate has continued, is past due. We used Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data to examine trends in incidence of CBT from 1973 through 2009. We examined age-adjusted incidence rates (AAIRs) and secular trends for all malignant brain tumors combined (SEER classification) by histologic tumor type and anatomic site. The incidence of CBT remained stable from 1987 to 2009 [annual percent change (APC) = 0.10; 95 % confidence intervals (CI) −0.39 to 0.61] with an AAIR for all CBT of 3.32 (95 % CI 3.22–3.42). The stability of rates in these two decades contrast the change that occurred in the mid-1980s (1983–1986), when the incidence of CBT increased by 53 % (APC = 14.06; 95 % CI 4.05–25.0). From 1983 to 1986, statistically significant rate increases were observed for pilocytic astrocytoma, PNET/medulloblastoma, and mixed glioma. Further, the rate of increase in pilocytic astrocytoma was similar to the rate of decrease for astrocytomas NOS from 1981 to 2009, suggesting a change from a more general to more specific classification. After the increase in rates in the mid-1980s, rates of CBT over the past two decades have stabilized. Changes in incidence rates of subtypes of tumors over this time period reflect changes both in classification of CBT and in diagnostic techniques.


Childhood brain tumors Gender Histology Incidence rates Pediatric cancer Secular trends SEER 



Funding for this research was provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) [R01 CA116724]; the American Cancer Society [PTAPM-02-074-01]; the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) [2 T32 ES 013678-06]; the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center, Grant #5P30ES07048; and the Ronald Ross, MD, Cancer Research Fund at the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

11060_2013_1212_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (137 kb)
Supplementary material (PDF 137 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberta McKean-Cowdin
    • 1
  • Pedram Razavi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jessica Barrington-Trimis
    • 1
  • Rachel Tobias Baldwin
    • 1
  • Shahab Asgharzadeh
    • 2
    • 3
  • Myles Cockburn
    • 1
  • Tarik Tihan
    • 4
  • Susan Preston-Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Preventive MedicineUniversity of Southern California Keck School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Norris Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of Southern California Keck School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.PediatricsChildren’s Hospital Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Neuropathology UnitUniversity of California at San Francisco Medical CenterSan FranciscoUSA

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