Epidemiology of childhood brain tumors

Can J Neurol Sci. 1996 May;23(2):118-22. doi: 10.1017/s031716710003883x.


Background: Brain tumors comprise more than 20% of all childhood malignancies, and constitute the greatest number of solid pediatric cancers. Incidence rates reported have varied from 2.4 to 3.5/100,000 children, reflecting the impact of modern imaging techniques, the application of diverse investigative methodologies, and the accessibility of the community to health care.

Methods: Material from patients < 18 years of age was collated from the Manitoba Cancer Foundation Tumor Registry, the personal records of Winnipeg pediatric neurologists, and autopsy data. Patient data were also obtained from hospital charts and operating room log books. Histological sections were examined and classified according to the American Cancer Society by a single neuropathologist. The chi-square test was used for statistical evaluation.

Results: During the seven-year study period, the diagnosis of brain tumor was made in 89 pediatric patients, of which 88 were diagnosed premortem. The overall average annual incidence rate for both sexes was 4.03/100,000 child-years, higher than that previously reported. The male and female average annual incidence rates were 4.2 and 3.7/100,000 child-years, respectively. Tumor type and location were relatively unremarkable, with an expected peak of medulloblastoma occurring in young males. The yearly incidence of tumor occurrence was fairly stable, and the geographic distribution of cases within Manitoba, homogeneous.

Conclusion: The highest incidence rates of pediatric brain tumors have been recorded in countries possessing sophisticated universal health care systems, possibly reflecting their efficacy in disease surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Glioma / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Time Factors