Side effects of surgery for brain cancer
Below are some of the side effects you may experience after surgery for a brain or spinal cord tumour.
Although the risk is small, you may develop an infection at the wound site. This can usually be treated with antibiotics. A small number of people may need surgery to have the wound cleaned out.
This is a rare but serious side effect. You’ll have a CT or MRI scan the day after surgery to check for any bleeding or swelling.
Surgery can cause swelling in the brain, which increases the pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure). Your medical team will monitor the swelling and try to reduce it with medicines.
Other side effects
You may continue to feel confused and dizzy, and have speech problems, weakness in parts of the body and seizures. You and your family or carers may be surprised that you may feel worse than before the surgery and worry that you aren’t recovering well. These side effects are normal and often improve with time.
In some cases, people recover fully and can gradually return to their usual activities. In other cases, the tumour position or damage to surrounding brain tissue may mean that there are longer-term changes to how you speak, move and think.
A range of therapies can help speed up your recovery or show you ways to manage any longer-term changes. These therapies are known as rehabilitation. At first, you may have some rehabilitation therapies in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility. Once you return home, you can continue to have these therapies as an outpatient. You may also be given equipment to use at home. Learn about some different types of rehabilitation therapies.
For more on this, see our general section on Surgery.
A/Prof Lindy Jeffree, Neurosurgeon, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Emma Daly, Neuro-oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cabrini Health, VIC; A/Prof Andrew Davidson, Neurosurgeon, Victorian Gamma Knife Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Department of Neurosurgery, Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC; Beth Doggett, Consumer; Kate Fernandez, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Melissa Harrison, Allied Health Manager and Senior Neurological Physiotherapist, Advance Rehab Centre, NSW; A/Prof Rosemary Harrup, Director, Cancer and Blood Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; A/Prof Eng-Siew Koh, Radiation Oncologist, Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre, Liverpool Hospital and University of New South Wales, NSW; Andy Stokes, Consumer.
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