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Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer

Overview

Active surveillance is an option for some people who have slow-growing cancer that hasn't spread outside the prostate (localized). With active surveillance, you'll have regular checkups and tests. You won't have treatment unless tests show the cancer is growing. Some people will never need treatment.

It may seem odd to have cancer and not have treatment for it. But many people choose active surveillance because:

  • Most prostate cancer grows very slowly. It's possible to have prostate cancer for years and not have any symptoms.
  • Prostate cancer treatments have serious side effects, such as bladder and erection problems. Active surveillance lets people avoid or delay treatment and its side effects.

If tests show this is an option for you, talk to your doctor. To help you make your decision, discuss:

  • The risk that the cancer will grow.
  • Your overall health and how long you're likely to live (life expectancy).
  • Your preferences.

Risks

Risks

There is a risk that the prostate cancer will grow during active surveillance. That's why it's important to follow your doctor's schedule of tests and exams. It will help your doctor find out right away if the cancer is growing. Then it can be treated in the early stages, when treatment is most successful.

Credits

Current as of: December 17, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Christopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Richard M. Hoffman MD, MPH - Internal Medicine