A brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain. Brain tumors can be benign, with no cancer cells, or malignant, with cancer cells that grow quickly. Some are primary brain tumors, which start in the brain. Others are metastatic, and they start somewhere else in the body and move to the brain.


Approximately 1,600 brain cancers are diagnosed annually in Australia; that is roughly one person diagnosed with brain cancer every five hours.


Brain cancer has a very high mortality rate, and this has barely fallen in the last 30 years.

Brain cancer kills more people under 40 in Australia than any other cancer.

 Survival rates

Only two in ten people diagnosed with brain cancer will survive for at least five years.

Between the years 1982 - 2007, brain cancer incidence and mortality trends showed little change.

 The Disease

Brain tumours are named according to where the tumour originated, its pattern of growth and whether it is benign or cancerous. The tumour is also graded by its degree of malignancy and its chances of growing and spreading.

There are approximately 130 different types of brain tumour. The most common type of brain cancer is glioblastoma, which mainly occurs in adults. Medulloblastoma is the most common childhood brain tumor.

Brain tumours can be benign or malignant. A benign tumour consists of very slow growing cells, usually has distinct borders, and rarely spreads. Malignant brain tumours vary widely both in the way they grow and the way they respond to treatment.