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Open Brain Surgery with Chemotherapy for Malignant Glioma


  • Open brain surgery with chemotherapy for malignant glioma is done to remove a tumor (lump) from the brain. The brain is made up of neurons which transmit and receive signals, and glial cells which support and nourish neurons. A malignant glioma forms when glial cells become cancer. The glial cancer cells grow and divide without control or order. These cancer cells often make too much tissue and affect other nearby structures in the brain. During an open brain surgery or craniotomy, you may either be asleep or awake. Caregivers will do a craniotomy by drilling a hole or removing a part of the skull to expose the brain. During the surgery, brain mapping may be done to check the activities in the different areas of the brain. These include areas of the brain used for speaking, moving, seeing, smelling, and understanding.
  • Your caregiver may also need to do stereotaxy to remove your malignant glioma. In stereotaxy, scanned images of the brain will show pictures in three-dimensional (3-D) views. This will help caregivers clearly see the different brain areas while watching the images in a monitor. Stereotaxy may enable caregivers to target and remove the glioma more accurately. Chemotherapy is medicine used to treat cancer. During surgery, wafer-like chemotherapy medicine will be placed in your brain. These medicines will help kill cancer cells that may have spread to other areas in the brain. You and your caregiver will decide if this type of surgery for your malignant glioma is right for you. With open brain surgery with chemotherapy, the malignant glioma may be removed, and the symptoms it causes relieved.



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Your caregiver may slowly decrease the amount of steroid medicine you are using. Do not change the amount or stop using this medicine until your caregiver tells you to.
  • If you are having chemotherapy, take your medicine exactly as you are told.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • Your caregiver will tell you when the sutures or staples in your head will be removed. Ask your caregiver how to take care of your sutures and staples at home.

Eating well with cancer and cancer treatment:

Good nutrition can:

  • help you feel better during treatment and decrease treatment side effects
  • decrease your risk of infection
  • help you have more energy and feel stronger
  • help you maintain a healthy weight and heal faster
Eat a variety of healthy foods to get the protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients that your body needs. You may need to change the foods you eat depending on your treatments and side effects. You also may need to eat more calories than usual. Work with a dietitian to plan the best meals and snacks for you. Ask if you should add vitamins to your diet.

Wound care:

When you are allowed to bathe or shower, carefully wash the incisions with soap and water. Afterwards, put on clean, new bandages. Change your bandages any time it gets wet or dirty. Ask your caregivers for more information about wound care.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • You have dizziness, nausea (upset stomach), or vomiting (throwing up).
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery, condition, or care.


  • You have a fever, stiff neck, or eye pain, especially when looking directly at the lights.
  • You have pus or a foul-smelling odor coming from your incision.
  • You have severe headache that does not go away even after taking pain medicines.
  • You have trouble seeing, talking, or thinking clearly.
  • You passed out or had a seizure (convulsion).
  • Your face is getting numb or you cannot move your arms or legs.
  • Your symptoms come back or become worse.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.