Surgery is usually an integral part of brain cancer treatment. With an ultimate goal to safely remove as much of a tumor as possible, a neurosurgeon will typically evaluate multiple factors, including the size and stage of the tumor and the patient’s age, health and preferences, to determine the best treatment approach. Sometimes, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used prior to surgery to destroy cancerous cells and help shrink a tumor, as an alternative to surgery to help manage symptoms if a tumor cannot be safely removed or after surgery to help prevent a cancer recurrence.
Some common types of brain cancer surgery include:
- Biopsy – A surgeon guides a hollow needle into a tumor and draws up a small sampling of tissue for further analysis by a pathologist. This type of surgery is performed for diagnostic purposes.
- Shunt procedure – To reduce pressure on the brain, a surgeon places a narrow, flexible tube (shunt) within the cranial region to redirect excess fluid to another part of the body.
- Laser ablation – A surgeon inserts a small, flexible laser probe into a tumor, then uses heat generated by the laser to destroy cancerous cells.
- Craniotomy – A surgeon removes a small section of skull bone to access and remove a tumor, then replaces the bone.
- Craniectomy – A surgeon removes a small section of skull bone to access and remove a tumor; to help alleviate pressure caused by swelling after surgery, the bone is not immediately replaced.
- Endonasal endoscopy – A surgeon guides an endoscope and tiny camera through the nose and sinuses to remove a tumor or obtain tissue samples for testing.
- Neuroendoscopy – A surgeon creates a small opening in the skull, then uses an endoscope and tiny camera to remove a tumor or obtain tissue samples for testing.
Moffitt Cancer Center offers the latest advances in brain cancer surgery, such as robot-assisted procedures, awake craniotomies and MRI-guided laser ablation, and our surgical expertise is unmatched by most other cancer centers. Moffitt treats many patients who have brain cancer – some of whom have very rare and difficult-to-remove tumors – and our surgeons perform a high number of complex brain surgery procedures each year. As a result, the multispecialty team in our Neuro-Oncology Program has acquired extensive experience and highly refined skills in brain tumor surgery, and every day we come closer to finding a cure.