What is Active Surveillance?
Active surveillance does not actively treat prostate cancer. It monitors the cancer growth with regular PSA tests, DREs and periodic biopsies. A schedule for tests will be set with your provider. To help your provider do these biopsies, a multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (pmMRI) exam might be done. With active surveillance, your doctor will know very quickly if the cancer grows. If that happens, then he/she will suggest next steps for you. At that point, radiation and surgery may be the best treatment options.
What are the Benefits, Risks and Side Effects of Active Surveillance?
Active Surveillance is best if you have a small, slow growing (low-risk) cancer. It is good for men who do not have symptoms. If you want to avoid sexual, urinary or bowel side effects for as long as possible, this may be the treatment for you. Active surveillance allows men to maintain their quality of life longer without risking the success of treatment (if and when it's needed). Action is taken only if the disease changes or grows. For many men, they never need more aggressive treatments.
Active surveillance is mainly used to delay or avoid aggressive therapy. On the other hand, this method may require you to have several biopsies over time to track cancer growth.
Updated August 2018