A biopsy is when the surgeon removes a piece of the brain tumour. This is often done during an operation to remove the tumour, but is sometimes done before any treatment.

A biopsy is when the surgeon removes a piece of the brain tumour. Sometimes this is done before you have any other treatment. More often it is done as part of a larger operation to remove the tumour.

You usually have a biopsy taken under a general anaesthetic. Sometimes a local anaesthetic is used. The surgeon uses scans taken before and sometimes during the operation to guide them while taking the biopsy. They may take the biopsy:

  • through a small hole they drill in the skull (burr hole)
  • by removing a small piece of skull over the tumour (craniotomy) – this is sometimes called an open biopsy.

The biopsy sample is sent to a laboratory for tests. These are to find out the type and grade of the tumour. Some types of tumour are also tested for changes in the tumour cells called biomarkers.

The tests give your doctor information about how the tumour may develop and grow. Knowing this helps them to plan the best treatment for you.