The surgical specialists at the Duke Cancer Institute use surgery to diagnose and remove tumors in the brain.
Some types of brain tumors can be cured by surgery alone, or surgery combined with radiation therapy. These include low-grade astrocytomas, ependymomas, craniopharyngiomas, gangliogliomas, and meningiomas.
The Duke Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program provides specialized care for children with brain tumors.
A biopsy will be performed to remove a tissue sample. If cancer cells are found, the surgeon may remove as much of the tumor as possible during the same procedure.
Widely spread, invasive tumors extending into areas of the brain that affect vision, movement, sensation, or speech are often best diagnosed using a stereotactic biopsy, in which a specialized computer is used to direct the biopsy needle to the necessary area.
Radiographic imaging may be used to identify tumors that can be removed via surgery. If the tumor is located near an area that is negatively affecting movement, sensation, or speech, those functions can be monitored throughout surgery using the imaging techniques. This way, more of the tumor can be removed while limiting the effect on the brain.
In the case of tumors that blend into surrounding brain tissue, such as anaplastic astrocytomas or glioblastomas, surgery cannot provide a cure, but it can prolong life by reducing the size of the tumor.
This reduction can enhance the effectiveness of radiation or chemotherapy and can also reduce symptoms caused by pressure in the skull, such as nausea and vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, or seizures.
If a tumor is in the brain stem or other vital area, surgery may not be possible because it would damage normal brain function.
Learn more about surgery for a brain tumor.
Learn how to make an appointment with the Duke Cancer Institute.