Support Tools: “Wait and See” approach after a brain tumour diagnosis

"Watchful waiting," "active monitoring" or "surveillance" are words to describe a monitoring strategy used most often for low-grade types of brain tumours.

If a brain tumour is discovered that's slow growing many times active treatment is not the first recommendation. When the doctor says you have a brain tumour and the best thing to do is to watch and wait — instead of describing an active treatment plan, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation — it can bring on feelings of fear and anxiety. We're so used to the idea that certain illnesses need to be immediately treated to avoid further health complications. It would seem strange just to watch and wait for something to happen; however in some cases, ongoing monitoring is the best strategy.

Active monitoring can have good benefits. If a brain tumour is slow growing, it may be best to wait until the tumour is at a stage where treatment is more effective. Or, it may be that the brain tumour is monitored and never needs active treatment.

You may want to also consider these active steps if you are in a watch and wait situation after a brain tumour diagnosis:

  • Be physically active — at least 3 days each week
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Reduce stress levels — incorporate yoga or meditation
  • Be aware of any changes in your body — report any new symptoms to your doctor
  • Get your blood tests and scans on schedule — outline your monitoring plan together with your doctor
  • Understand next steps if active treatment is necessary — being well informed will help with your sense of control over the situation

Watchful waiting should be considered an active strategy, as close monitoring can give you reassurance that your brain tumour is stable and not aggressively growing. If symptoms start to develop while your brain tumour is being monitored, seek immediate medical attention and additional treatment strategies can be discussed.

You can also find more information here.

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