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Understanding Brain Tumor Surgery

The idea of brain surgery to remove a tumor, understandably, gives you pause. To help ease your mind, we outline why brain tumor surgery is effective and how we go about removing problematic tumors.

There are about 700,000 people in the United States who are living with a primary brain tumor, and in 2022, nearly 90,000 people were diagnosed with the condition. The frontline treatment for brain tumors is surgery, with the goal of removing the growth, and there are several ways we approach brain tumor surgery.

As a board-certified Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ali H. Mesiwala has extensive experience performing brain surgery to remove tumors. That said, our team understands that brain surgery may seem like a daunting prospect, so we want to take a closer look at the benefits of this approach to your health and the ways we can remove a brain tumor.

Why surgery for brain tumors?

As we mentioned, brain tumor surgery is often the best solution when it comes to treatment options. 

To determine whether a brain tumor is surgical, we look at many different aspects of the tumor:

  • Is it a primary or secondary tumor?
  • Where is it located?
  • How large is it?
  • How fast is it growing?
  • Is it already causing symptoms?
  • Is it benign or malignant?

On this final question, the only way to determine whether the tumor is cancerous is to perform a biopsy, which we can only do after we remove the tumor.

To give you a more specific example, let’s take a look at the most common type of brain tumor — meningiomas — which account for about 30% of brain tumors. These tumors are benign and grow in the meninges, which is the lining of your brain and your spinal cord. 

Treatment for a meningioma depends upon its size and location. For example, we may take a wait-and-see approach with a small tumor that’s not located in a potentially problematic area. If, however, the tumor grows into areas of your brain that might pose issues, we recommend surgery. 

To give you an idea about how successful meningioma surgery can be, about 90% of patients who’ve had a meningioma removed completely don’t see a recurrence of the condition after 10 years.

Types of brain tumor surgery

There are several different types of brain tumor surgery, and choosing which one is right for you depends on several factors, especially the tumor’s location and the potential complexity of the removal.

If the tumor is located in an area where we need to gain firsthand visual and manual access, we turn to a craniotomy, a procedure in which we remove a small piece of your skull.

If we suspect your tumor may respond well to radiation, we may be able to use Gamma Knife® radiosurgery. With this procedure, we don’t make any incisions. Instead, we send beams of gamma radiation into the tumor to destroy the cells. 

For brain tumors that are located in certain areas, such as around the base of your skull, we can use endoscopic techniques to perform the removal. Using a lighted scope and specialized instruments, we go in through very small incisions or even through your nose.

It’s impossible to say here what type of brain surgery is best. Only after extensive evaluation of the brain tumor, including advanced imaging, can we make any recommendations. Dr. Mesiwala has extensive experience evaluating and treating a variety of brain tumors and can determine the optimal plan for the patient. 

If you have more questions about brain tumor surgery, please contact one of our offices in Newport Beach, Marina del Rey, Rancho Cucamonga, or San Bernardino, California, to set up a consultation.