Objective: The incidence of vestibular schwannomas (VSs) approaches 20 per million/yr. As treatment may depend on tumor growth, there is a demand of a treatment strategy based on hard data on the growth pattern of these tumors. This article reports growth data registered prospectively in 552 patients.
Study design: Of the 1,818 consecutive patients, diagnosed with VS during the period from 1975 to 2005, 729 patients were allocated to observation by repetitive magnetic resonance imaging. At least two scans had been performed in 552 patients at the time of data analysis. Two hundred thirty patients had a tumor confined to the internal acoustic meatus, whereas 322 patients had a tumor with an extrameatal extension. Growth to extrameatal extension was the definition for growth in intrameatal tumors, whereas a largest diameter change of more than 2 mm was the criteria for growth/shrinkage of extrameatal tumors. The mean observation time was 3.6 years (range, 1-15 yr).
Results: Seventeen percent of the intrameatal tumors grew, whereas significantly more of the extrameatal tumors displayed growth during the period (28.9%). Growth occurred within the first 5 years after diagnosis. No correlation could be demonstrated between tumor growth rate, sex, or age.
Conclusion: VS growth occurs within the first 5 years after diagnosis in a limited number of tumors, primarily in tumors with an extrameatal extension. We found no relation between tumor growth and sex or age. These findings justify primary observation of small tumors. A treatment strategy is proposed for this disease, focusing on the patient group allocated to observation.