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Prevalence rates are used to supplement descriptions of disease and are unavailable for all primary brain tumors in the United States. Data from two population-based tumor registries were obtained from the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States and used to compute age-specific incidence rates (1985-1994) and survival curves for further use in a statistical model to estimate prevalence rates. Prevalence rates were then used to estimate the number of individuals living with a brain tumor diagnosis in the U.S. population for the year 2000. The overall incidence rate in these regions is 13.8 per 100,000 with 2-, 5-, and 10-year survival rates of 58%, 49%, and 38%, respectively. The prevalence rate for all primary brain tumors is 130.8 per 100,000 with approximately 350,000 individuals estimated to be living with this diagnosis in the United States in 2000. The prevalence rate for malignant tumors, 29.5 per 100,000, is similar to previous reports. The prevalence rate for benign tumors, 97.5 per 100,000, is new. Unlike incidence data, the proportion (and expected number) of existing benign tumors (75%, 267,000) is considerably greater than that for malignant tumors (23%, 81,000), reflecting the better prognosis of benign tumors diagnosed in individuals younger than 60 years old. These data underscore the impact of primary brain tumors in the U.S. health care system and emphasize the need for quality-of-life considerations, particularly for those long-term survivors of benign tumors.