Whenever possible, your neurosurgeon will try to remove all of your tumour, or as much as is safe to. (Not all tumours can be operated on, as they may be too close to a sensitive area of the brain, e.g. that controls breathing or sight.)
To remove your tumour, your neurosurgeon needs to make a large-ish hole in your skull, so they can see into your brain. This operation is called a craniotomy. It is the most common type of surgery for brain tumours.
A craniotomy is usually performed when you are asleep under general anaesthetic, but it can be performed when you are awake.
An awake craniotomy may be performed if the tumour is close to areas of the brain that control important functions. Waking you part way through the operation allows the neurosurgeon to check where these functions are in your brain by asking you to perform certain tasks during the operation, such as reading out loud. This enables them to avoid damage to these areas.
This can sound rather scary, but if it is thought to be the best option for you, your healthcare team will discuss it with you, explaining what is done to prevent you feeling any pain and to help you mentally prepare for it.
It's important to note that the brain itself cannot feel pain, as it has no pain receptors.
Before your surgery, your neurosurgeon will discuss with you what to expect. Ask as many questions as you would like - there is no such thing as a 'silly' question.
You may like to ask about biobanking a frozen sample of your tumour, so you can be a candidate for clinical trials in the future and have any relevant genetic (biomarker) tests for your tumour. These tests, for some tumours only, can predict how well you might respond to certain treatments.
The length of time a craniotomy takes varies according to the part of the brain being operated on. It may take around 4-6 hours, but can be longer.