Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer

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Working with the Doctor to Monitor Your Prostate Heatlh

(sometimes called "Watchful Waiting")

Blood tests and biopsies can help doctors detect cancer at a very early stage. Some cancers grow slowly (and may not cause problems), while others progress quickly. Doctors have a reasonable way of determining slow growth. The concept of active surveillance, sometimes called watchful waiting, has become an option for men who have decided not to undergo immediate treatment with surgery or radiation therapy.

Active surveillance (active monitoring) means that your doctors will keep a close eye on you. Elderly patients and those with relatively slow growing, localized prostate cancer may be candidates for active surveillance, or observation, depending on their medical history. For these patients, our specialists help weigh the benefits of treatment compared to the treatment side effects and/or the ability to tolerate treatment.

Active surveillance is recommended for appropriate patients who are concerned that the side effects of treatment are greater than the benefits; or those who have a lower risk of developing cancer than the health risks involved with their other medical conditions.

In general, to be eligible for active surveillance, patients should have the following characteristics:

  • Life expectancy of 10 years or less (based on age or health status)
  • Recognizes there is no perfect test to predict or detect the spread of prostate cancer
  • Has a favorable Gleason score
  • Has small, localized tumors (determined after a biopsy)
  • Has a low and slowly changing PSA level
  • Is willing to return for regular follow-up PSA tests

For more information about prostate cancer treatment and prevention at Fox Chase Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call 1-888-FOX CHASE (1-888-369-2427).