A tumor is an abnormal growth caused by the uncontrolled division of cells. Benign tumors do not have the potential to spread to other parts of the body (a process called metastasis) and are curable by surgical removal.
Treatment of a brain tumor depends on its location and type. When possible, the tumor is removed surgically. Some brain tumors can be removed with little or no damage to the brain. Surgery is the treatment of choice for accessible primary brain tumors, when the patient is in good health. To remove a brain tumor, a neurosurgeon makes an opening in the skull. This operation is called a craniotomy.
The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and involves opening the skull (cranium). The neurosurgeon makes an incision into the scalp and several holes (called burr holes) are made in the skull. A bone saw is used to join the holes together to create a flap of bone. The bone flap is then removed to expose the brain and remove as much of the tumor as possible.
After the tumor has been partially or completely resected, the bone flap is replaced and secured using fine wire. Recovery from the procedure may take as long as 8 weeks.
Whenever possible, the surgeon attempts to remove the entire tumor. If the tumor cannot be completely removed without damaging vital brain tissue, your doctor may remove as much of the tumor as possible. The prognosis improves when more than 90% of a tumor can be removed.
Sometimes surgery is not possible. If the tumor is in the brain stem or certain other areas, the surgeon may not be able to remove the tumor without damaging normal brain tissue. Patients who cannot have surgery may receive radiation or other treatment.
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