Monitoring (watch and wait)

This means keeping a close check on the tumour to find out if it is changing or growing. It is only suitable in certain situations. You have regular scans to check the tumour and see your specialist doctor regularly at a clinic. Your doctor will also ask you to contact them straight away if you have any new or changing symptoms. You can start treatment if your scan results or your symptoms show the tumour is growing.

Your specialist doctor will explain the benefits and possible risks of this approach in your situation. Watch and wait might be suitable:

  • for some people who have small, low-grade tumours with few or no symptoms
  • when an operation would be difficult because of the tumour’s position
  • if treatment side effects are likely to be worse than the symptoms caused by the tumour.

Some people have watch and wait before they have any treatment at all. But in some situations, you may also be able to choose this approach after surgery. It may mean you can delay having further treatment, such as radiotherapy, until you need it.

You may find watch and wait difficult at first but people usually find it gets easier with time. Your specialist nurse can give you support and advice on coping.

Some people find it helpful to talk about how they feel with family and friends. You may want to talk to people who are in a similar situation. You could try joining a support group or online forum.