When is surgery used?

Surgery is often the main treatment for brain tumours. The operation you have depends on the size of the tumour and its position.

You can have surgery to:

  • take a sample of the tumour (a biopsy) for further tests
  • remove all of the tumour (complete resection)
  • remove as much of the tumour as safely possible (partial resection or debulking)
  • reduce raised pressure in the skull.

Some people have chemotherapy given directly into the brain during surgery to remove the tumour.

Some tumours cannot be removed with surgery. A tumour may be too difficult to reach, or the risk of damaging the brain is too high. In these situations, your surgeon will talk to you about other treatments you can have.

Back to Surgery explained


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.

Having your operation

A team of healthcare professionals will help you before and after surgery for a brain tumour.


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

What happens before surgery?

To prepare for your operation, you’ll have some tests and may be given steroids. If you smoke, try to give up or cut down.

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.