Brain tumors can be cancerous or benign. They can be primary, meaning they originated in the brain, or metastatic, meaning cancer elsewhere in the body caused the tumor to grow. As of 2018, doctors and scientists have documented over 150 brain tumor types. The most common are gliomas, which are responsible for approximately seventy-eight percent of adult cancerous brain tumors. No matter the tumor type, there are treatment options patients and their doctors can explore. Knowing more about these helps ensure patients are informed about the treatments doctors recommend to them.
Surgery may be considered to debulk a tumor or remove it completely. Traditionally, surgeons will perform a craniotomy, which involves opening the skull, to access the part of the brain where the tumor is present. Another option is a stereostatic biopsy, which is a smaller surgical procedure involving drilling a hole into the skull that allows the surgeon to take some tissue for the tumor.
This can be done to obtain more information about the tumor. The patient may be awake during the procedures depending on the tumor size and its location, which is important because it allows surgical staff to test the patient’s speech, reflexes, and other abilities to make sure parts of the brain are not being affected by the tumor removal.