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Brain Tumor Surgery, Treatment, and Removal Options​

At UPMC, we take a 360° approach to treating brain tumors and lesions.

Before deciding on a treatment option, we look at your condition from every direction to find the path that is least disruptive to your brain, critical nerves, and ability to return to normal functioning.

Brain Tumor Treatment Options

Treatments vary depending on the type and location of your brain tumor.

Treatments for brain tumors include:

Our neurosurgical team may recommend a combination of surgical and non-surgical approaches to maximize the benefits of surgery while minimizing risks.

Surgery for Brain Tumors

UPMC neurosurgeons remove brain tumors surgically, whenever possible.

Several minimally invasive surgical options allow us to access areas that previously were difficult or impossible to reach.

  • The Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA) is an innovative surgery that takes advantage of the nose and nasal cavities as natural pathways to your brain tumor. EEA is appropriate for tumors at the base of the skull or upper spine, including meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, and other conditions.
  • Neuroendoport® Surgery offers a minimally invasive treatment option for deep-seated tumors within the ventricles (fluid-filled spaces) or substance of the brain. A narrow tube allows doctors to access tumors, such as gliomas or brain metastases, through a tiny incision in the skull, in contrast to traditional, open brain surgery.
  • Laser ablation: One of the newest minimally invasive techniques for treating deep-seated brain tumors, multiple metastases, and radiation necrosis is laser ablation, which uses heat to destroy the tumor or lesion. During the procedure, a laser fiber, guided by MRI technology, is directed toward the tumor through a small hole in the skull. Once the targeted area has been defined, surgeons use heat from the laser to destroy the tumor or lesion. The entire procedure is viewed in real time on MR images that display thermal s outlining the distribution of heat to ensure safety and successful target treatment.

In addition to minimally invasive approaches, UPMC's neurosurgical team is trained and experienced in all traditional approaches to the brain, so they can develop the best treatment and removal plan to allow you to return to normal life.

Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery

Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a painless procedure that uses hundreds of highly focused radiation beams to target tumors and lesions within the brain, without making a surgical incision.

UPMC is the nation’s leading provider of Gamma Knife procedures. Over its 25-year history at UPMC, Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery has been used to treat nearly 12,000 patients with benign or malignant brain tumors, vascular malformations, pain, and other functional problems.

Radiation Therapy

Since brain surgery isn't always a treatment option, we commonly use radiation to treat brain tumors.

We deliver radiation therapy in two ways:

  • Externally, by directing radiation at the tumor from an outside source.
  • Internally, by placing radioactive material directly in the body near the tumor.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells.

Depending on the type and stage of brain cancer, chemotherapy may be:

  • Taken by mouth
  • Injected
  • Placed directly into the brain tumor site