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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

your skin.


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.

Open biopsy

This biopsy is a major surgery. It is performed much

like a resection. Small surgical knives will be used to

remove a tissue sample.

Stereotactic biopsy

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,

and itching.

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

cord injury.

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.