Watchful Waiting

Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. The person may get better (or not get worse) without treatment. And if the condition gets worse, the person and his or her doctor will decide what to do next.

Sometimes watchful waiting means the person doesn't need to contact the doctor unless a problem gets worse. But often it means that the person is being watched closely by his or her doctor to see if treatment may be needed. During this time, visits to the doctor for checkups and tests may be needed.

The length of the watchful waiting period is determined by the:

  • Severity of the symptoms.
  • Progression of the problem if not treated.
  • Risks and benefits of waiting.
  • Person's age and medical history.

Current as of: November 14, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology