Brain tumours may be primary (they arise in the brain or nearby tissue) or metastatic (they have originated in another part of the body and travelled to the brain, usually via the bloodstream). Primary tumours may either be benign (they do not spread to other tissues) or malignant (they spread).
Surgery may be the only treatment approach for a brain tumour, or it may be used in combination with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Typically, the skull is opened up (craniotomy) giving the surgeon access to the tumour and allowing removal of as much of the tumour as possible without damaging brain tissue.
A stereotactic biopsy is another surgical procedure often performed to aid in tumour diagnosis. A small hole is drilled into the skull and a sample of tissue removed for examination under the microscope.
Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill abnormal cells, while chemotherapy uses chemicals to destroy cancer cells.