NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Brain Cancer – Gliomas, Version 1.2016
Test and treatment overview
remove a piece of your skull. A cut into your brain
may be needed to reach the tumor. After the tumor
is removed, the piece of your skull will be fastened
with hardware (eg, screws, plates). Your scalp will be
stitched back together.
Spinal tumor resection.
You will be given general anesthesia to make you
sleep during the surgery. Your surgeon will first make
a cut into your body above the tumor. Some spinal
bones will then be removed. A second cut will be
made to access your spinal cord and remove the
tumor. Sometimes hardware is used to keep the
spinal bones in place after surgery. Stitches are used
to close the cuts and a bandage will be placed over
A biopsy is a type of surgery that removes samples
of tissue. Doctors use biopsies for two reasons.
Some types of biopsy are used to guide resections.
Biopsies are also used when most or all of the tumor
can’t be removed. Spinal tumors are treated more
often with biopsy than resection. There are two types
of biopsy advised by NCCN experts for gliomas.
This biopsy is a major surgery. It is performed much
like a resection. Small surgical knives will be used to
remove a tissue sample.
This biopsy is often done when a brain tumor is in
a hard-to-reach or vital area. Your surgeon will use
an imaging test and a computer system to guide the
biopsy. A head frame or small scalp markers will also
be used. Your surgeon will make a small cut into your
scalp and drill a very small (burr) hole into your skull.
A thin needle will be inserted into the hole to remove
some of the tumor.
Side effects of surgery
Side effects are unhealthy or unpleasant physical
or emotional responses to treatment. You may
experience side effects from the general anesthesia
or the surgery itself. Side effects of general
anesthesia include a sore throat from the breathing
tube, nausea with vomiting, confusion, muscle aches,
Common side effects of any surgery are pain,
swelling, and scars. If you had brain surgery, you
won’t feel pain in your brain because it has no pain
receptors. However, you may have headaches
from swelling and your scalp may hurt without pain
medicine. A burning or tingling pain sometimes
occurs after spinal surgery. Pain and swelling often
fade away in the weeks following surgery. Feeling
tired after surgery is also common.
Some rare risks of brain surgery include infection
(pneumonia), major bleeding, blood clots, seizures,
and brain damage. You may have a short-term
increase in neurological symptoms after surgery due
to swelling. Some rare risks of spinal surgery include
new numbness, blood clots, infection, and spinal
Not all side effects of surgery are listed here. Please
ask your treatment team for a complete list of
common and rare side effects. If a side effect bothers
you, tell your treatment team. There may be ways to
help you feel better.