Brain tumor surgery is a critical first step in many patient treatment plans. Yet, most people don’t know about surgery options, types of surgery, which members of your medical team will be performing surgery, and many other issues that you need to understand fully before making your treatment decisions.
Once you are diagnosed, your team may encourage you to have your surgery as soon as possible. There are certainly benefits of an expedient surgery, negatives to delaying surgery, and, also, benefits to delaying surgery to explore additional options.
In scheduling and having your surgery as soon as possible, you limit the amount your tumor can grow in size before you have it removed, if it is a fast-growing tumor. In delaying surgery, you run the risk of your tumor invading other critical areas of your brain. By delaying your surgery, you allow yourself time to research clinical trials, as you may not qualify for certain clinical trials once a craniotomy, or other procedure, is performed.
Before Brain Tumor Surgery Key Questions
- How aggressive is my tumor’s growth?
- What parts of my brain are currently affected by my tumor and what areas are at risk if my tumor continues to grow?
- What centers specialize in the type of tumor I have?
- Can a genetic study of my tumor tissue be conducted? Where can this be done?
- Will a member of my care team reach out to certain specialists on my behalf about my case?
- Is it safe to delay surgery to pursue a specialist?
- Are there clinical trials that I might qualify for that require specific surgical procedures?
- Which clinical trials will no longer be available to me once my surgery is performed?
- Should I prepare a living will, power of attorney, and healthcare proxy? How do I go about doing this?
- Can I have a sample of my tumor tissue frozen for any future clinical trial or treatment opportunities?
- Can a sample of my tumor tissue be sent for research? What research programs would benefit from my tumor sample?
- How many surgeries have you performed on people with this tumor type and/or location?
- How will you protect against damage to the brain?
- Will I be awake or asleep during surgery? If I will be awake, can you explain that process? What are the risks and benefits?
- How will tumor location affect my outcome and your strategy?
- What are the risks and benefits of surgery for me?
- Will I experience different symptoms or cognitive problems after surgery?
- Where and how big will the incision be? Will you have to shave my head?
- How long will I be hospitalized after surgery?
- What mobility adjustments should I anticipate?
- In-home care?
- Where will you sleep?
- How easy will it be for you to get to the restroom?
- How easy will it be for you to get to the kitchen?
- What care might you need after surgery? In-home care? Rehabilitative therapy? Mobility (ramps, raised-height toilet seat, walker, wheelchair?)
- Will you need to arrange for childcare?
- Do you need to call your insurance company to confirm coverage?
- Do you know how long you’re able to stay at the hospital?
- Do you have in-home care benefits? If so, for how long?
- Who will arrange post-surgical care?
- Can your insurance company provide an estimation of cost?
- Will you need and will your insurance company provide vocational and physical rehabilitation?
- Will your insurance cover the cost of a second opinion?