Hi, Jimbo -
Welcome to the forum
I'm 46 1/2 and from I'm from Illinois. I had my AN removed via the retrosigmoid approach a year and a week ago. I had the option of radiation or surgery, but decided to go with surgery for many reasons I'm not going to go into right now.
My AN was 1.5 cm when I was diagnosed in 4/07 and when I had surgery in 5/07 it had grown to a little more than 2.5 cm. So, as you can see, my growth was quite rapid. Rapid growth is unusual and when it does occur, no one knows why it does. So your gut feeling of rapid growth, while not highly likely, is certainly possible.
The symptoms I experienced were fullness and diminished hearing in my AN ear. I also discovered at my first appt. with the neurotologist that I had balance issues that I wasn't aware of.
If you haven't yet done so, I would highly recommend contacting the ANA and asking them to send you some informational literature. They have some excellent brochures, and although your doctors probably explained a lot of things to you, the brochures are written in very basic (non-medical) language. I found them extremely helpful.
I'm sure your doctors have given you an idea of all the possible risks and side-effects of surgery and radiation, along with the statistics that go with each one. However, it is a fairly general rule, that regardless of type of treatment, size of AN, location of AN, etc., no two AN patients are alike. In fact, no two AN journeys or recoveries are exactly alike either. As we like to point out on this forum, everyone is different.
The best way to reach a treatment decision is to research all your options and go with what you feel is the best choice for you
. Treatment decisions are very personal choices.
You ask if surgery is "safe" - IMO for someone your age in good health, it definitely is. But that is just my personal opinion - I am not a doctor.
I can tell you that my surgery turned out very well. My only permanent side effect is SSD (single-sided deafness) which I have chosen to minimize with the help of a BAHA implant. Post op I had a few minor issues - dry eye, dry mouth, balance issues, very temporary facial nerve damage - but my issues all went away within the first 6 months. I have had no headaches associated with my AN or my AN surgery.
Others on this forum have had different results with surgery and I will let them tell you about their own experiences. In addition, lots of people here have had radiation and I'm sure they will be responding to your post.
If you want to know more about what led me to choose surgery, or if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask me. I'm definitely not shy
Good luck with your research - and your ultimate treatment,