Unless the tumour is causing distressing symptoms, as a general rule most patients will opt for watch, wait and rescan, i.e. an observation of the tumour. Research has shown that two in three small tumours (less than 1.5cms) do not grow and, therefore, may not need to be treated. It is these symptoms that determine quality of life and, therefore, will influence your choice of management.
These symptoms include hearing loss on the side of the tumour which may become worse over time even if the tumour does not grow, a worsening of tinnitus and possibly episodes of dizziness or problems with your balance. Although these symptoms can be accepted as being preferable to the risks of an invasive treatment, they can affect a person’s quality of life.
There is also the psychological effect of having a tumour remaining in the head. Whilst some patients understandably prefer a non-interventional management to surgery or radiotherapy, the fact that you are having regular scans and regular visits to the hospital to monitor your tumour can cause anxiety.
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In addition to the ‘Watch, wait and scan management’ treatment shown above, there are two other modern management options for this tumour, depending upon its size, location and the severity of the symptoms.
The incidence is approximately 2 per 100,000 per year. That equates to 1200 new diagnoses per year assuming a UK population of 60 million. Based on MRI studies, the true prevalence may be around 0.05% (1 in 200) of the population, which equates to 30,000 people, also assuming a UK population of 60 million.
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