Watchful Waiting for Skull Base Tumors

A skull base tumor may be discovered during imaging tests for another condition. If a tumor found in this way is small and causing no symptoms, your NYU Langone doctor may recommend monitoring but not treating it. This approach is called watchful waiting.

During watchful waiting, your doctor may examine you regularly and order imaging tests, such as MRI scans. These appointments are usually scheduled every three to six months, then once a year if the tumor does not appear to be growing and is still not causing symptoms.

A skull base tumor may take years before it causes any symptoms. Watchful waiting allows you to avoid surgery or radiation therapy if the tumor doesnโ€™t grow. But this approach requires continued follow-up and monitoring with your doctor.

Your age may play a role in whether you and your doctor decide to monitor a tumor instead of treating it. Young people with a skull base tumor are more likely to experience signs and symptoms at some point in their lifetime, and they are often better able to tolerate treatment such as surgery or radiation therapy.

Older people may neither tolerate these treatments as well, nor experience significant symptoms from a tumor during their lifetimes. Continued monitoring may detect any changes in a timely manner.

Some people are not comfortable with monitoring and would rather treat the tumor. You can always talk with your doctor if you want to proceed with other treatments beyond watchful waiting.