Watchful Waiting for Pituitary Tumors

In watchful waiting, doctors monitor a condition but don’t treat it because it isn’t causing any symptoms. This helps people avoid some of the common side effects of treatments such as medication, radiation therapy, and surgery.

If a pituitary tumor is small—meaning less than 1 centimeter across—and is not causing any symptoms, NYU Langone doctors may suggest watchful waiting. If you and your doctor choose this approach, your doctor develops a monitoring plan that is right for you.

Some pituitary tumors may never require treatment. For example, a small tumor in an 80-year-old person may only need observation during his or her lifetime, while a younger person may be more likely to eventually experience symptoms requiring treatment.

Typically, people who are being monitored have appointments with their doctor at least once a year, in which the doctor orders an MRI scan and blood work to measure hormone levels. If these tests suggest the tumor has grown or is starting to cause hormone problems, or if you develop symptoms, your doctor may suggest treatment, such as medications, surgery, radiosurgery, or radiation therapy.