Treatment for haemangioblastoma
This page is about treatment for haemangioblastoma brain tumours. There is information about
Treatment for haemangioblastoma
Haemangioblastomas are rare tumours that develop from blood vessel cells. They often grow very slowly and are usually limited to one area of the brain. They most commonly start in the back part of the brain (the cerebellum). Haemangioblastomas can cause sudden symptoms by blocking the circulation of fluid around the brain and making fluid build up (hydrocephalus).
Surgery for haemangioblastoma
Surgery is the usual treatment and it is normally possible to remove haemangioblastomas completely, even if there is more than one tumour.
Radiotherapy for haemangioblastoma
Sometimes the haemangioblastoma may spread into surrounding brain tissue. Or it may occur in an area that is difficult to operate on, such as the brain stem. It may not be possible to remove these tumours completely. You may have radiotherapy to treat haemangioblastomas that cannot be removed with surgery or can only be partly removed. Radiotherapy may also be used if you cannot have surgery due to other medical conditions.
If haemangioblastoma comes back
You may be able to have surgery again if haemangioblastoma comes back. Or you may have stereotactic radiotherapy, which targets the radiotherapy very precisely.
Risk of other tumours
Sometimes haemangioblastomas occur as part of an inherited condition called von Hippel Lindau syndrome. People with this syndrome have a higher risk of eye tumours, and kidney or adrenal gland tumours. Your treatment team will usually refer you to a genetics clinic to discuss this.
Haemangioblastomas develop from blood vessel cells and often grow very slowly. But they can cause sudden symptoms by blocking the circulation of fluid around the brain and making fluid build up (hydrocephalus). Haemangioblastomas are usually quite contained in one area and don't tend to spread into surrounding brain tissue. So it is nearly always possible to remove them with surgery. In fact it is usually possible to remove them completely. These contained tumours are sometimes called cystic haemangioblastomas.
Sometimes there may be more than one haemangioblastoma in the brain or spinal cord. It may be possible for your surgeon to remove multiple tumours successfully.
You may also be able to have surgery to remove tumours if they come back after the initial treatment.
Sometimes haemangioblastomas grow into the surrounding brain tissue or are in an area that is difficult to operate on, such as the brain stem. You may have radiotherapy to treat haemangioblastomas that
- Can only be partly removed with surgery
- Cannot be removed at all
- Have come back after treatment
You may also have radiotherapy if you are not fit enough to have brain surgery, for example, if you have serious lung or heart problems.
You may have stereotactic radiotherapy as the main treatment for this type of brain tumour. This type of radiotherapy targets the tumour very precisely. Whether this is suitable for you will depend on the size and position of the tumour. It is most often used for small tumours. You may also have stereotactic radiotherapy for haemangioblastoma that has come back after it was first treated.
You can read more about stereotactic radiotherapy.
Sometimes haemangioblastomas occur as part of an inherited condition called von Hippel Lindau syndrome (VHL). People with this syndrome have a higher risk of eye tumours, and kidney or adrenal gland tumours. Your treatment team will usually refer you to a genetics clinic to discuss this.
If you would like more information about haemangioblastoma treatment you may find information in our section about brain tumour treatment.
You can find information about the outlook (prognosis) for these tumours on the brain tumour statistics and outlook page.
You are also welcome to contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. Lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
You can contact one of the brain tumour organisations or look at our brain tumour reading list. If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use CancerChat, our online forum.
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