What happens before surgery?

You will have tests before surgery to make sure you are well enough to cope with it. These are usually done a few days before your operation at a pre-assessment clinic. These may include tests on your heart and lungs.

If you smoke, try to give up or cut down before your operation. This will help reduce your risk of problems, such as a chest infection. It will also help your wound to heal after the operation. Your GP can give you advice and support to help you give up. You may find it helpful to read our information about giving up smoking.

If you are not already taking them, you may be given a course of steroids. They help to reduce swelling in the brain caused by the tumour. Always take steroids exactly as your doctor has prescribed them. You will need to take them for a while after your operation.

You’ll usually be admitted to hospital the day before or morning of your operation. The nurses will give you elastic stockings (TED stockings) to wear during and after surgery. These help to prevent blood clots in your legs. You will see a member of the surgical team and a specialist nurse who will talk to you about the operation. You also see the doctor who gives you the anaesthetic (the anaesthetist).

Back to Surgery explained

When is surgery used?

Surgery can be used to remove all or part of the tumour or to give chemotherapy into the brain.


A biopsy consists in removing and examining a small piece of tissue. It’s used to identify the tumour’s type.


The surgeon removes all or as much as possible of the brain tumour with an operation called a craniotomy.


A shunt is a thin tube that drains extra fluid away from the brain to relieve raised intracranial pressure.

Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery. This will include a surgeon who specialises in your type of cancer.

What happens after surgery?

You'll be monitored closely after your operation. You may have a drip (infusion) giving you fluids for a short while.