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Brain and Other Central Nervous System Cancers: Recent Trends in Incidence and Mortality

Li Liu, MD
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Authors: Julie M. Legler, Lynn A. Gloeckler Ries, Malsolm A. Smith, et al.
Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 91, No 16 (August): 1382-1390, 1999

This study was based on data obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER), National Center for Health Statistics, and Medicare database. Trends in incidence rates for brain cancers have been level or declined slightly in all but the most elderly persons (i.e., those ³ 70 years). Mortality was lower and demonstrated sustained improvement among the patients younger than 44 years old, whereas mortality was higher and more closely paralleled incidence trends among those patients 45 years old or older. Within the latter group, the sharpest increases of incidence and mortality occurred in patients 85 years or older. This may be related to more aggressive diagnostic testing for this population, as evidenced by similar patterns of increase in CT imaging rates. However, other possibilities could certainly account for it.

Trends in brain cancer histology during the period from 1977 through 1995 revealed the declining incidence of low-grade glioma for all adult age groups, whereas the incidence of high-grade gliomas showed some modest increase in those patients 45 years old or older. The reasons remain unclear. Age appeared to be a major prognostic factor for all brain tumors as a whole. Modest survival improvement has been observed between the periods from 1975 through 1985 and from 1986 through 1995 for patients younger than 65 years old.