ZocdocAnswersDo all brain tumors need to be removed?

Question

Do all brain tumors need to be removed?

My father has been having bad headaches, and recently began acting very abnormally. The doctor thinks he might have a brain tumor and want to have his head scanned. This is terrifying. If he does have a brain tumor, does it have to be removed? If so, isn't it possible that he could actually die in surgery or get brain damage?

Answer

Brain tumors, or any brain abnormality, is a serious concern. I strongly encourage you to talk with your doctor. If you have further questions I encourage you to speak to a neurologist (a brain specialist). There are many types of brain tumors. In general, tumors can be benign (which means they do not invade and do not spread) or malignant (which means they invade and spread). Generally speaking, a benign tumor does not always need to be removed where malignant require treatment. The reason that one would want to remove any brain tumor (even benign) is if it in growing and taking up space in the cranium. If this is the case then it can increase the pressure on the brain and cause problems. A common type of benign brain tumor is a menigioma--that often does not need to be removed if it is found and there are no problems. That being said, if it grows so big that it is causing problems then it would need intervention. So to answer your question--not every brain tumor needs to be removed but many do if they are causing problems. It sounds like your father's doctor is concerned that it is causing problems--specifically the headaches. Also important, sometimes a tumor does not require surgery but can need other treatments (like radiation). Brain surgery is a procedure that has risks and benefits and there are certainly people who can die. It is impossible to say anything without knowing more details. In general, brain tumors are a rare cause for headaches. That being said, it is something that occasionally needs to be ruled out. I encourage you to talk to your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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