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Active surveillance for prostate cancer

During active surveillance for prostate cancer, your doctor closely monitors your prostate cancer for any changes. Active surveillance for prostate cancer is sometimes called watchful waiting.

No cancer treatment is provided during active surveillance for prostate cancer. This means medications, radiation and surgery aren't used. Periodic tests are done to check for signs the cancer is growing.

You might consider active surveillance for prostate cancer if your cancer is small, expected to grow very slowly, confined to one area of your prostate, and isn't causing signs or symptoms.

If you have other health problems that limit your life expectancy, active surveillance for prostate cancer may also be a reasonable approach.

Why it's done Risks What you can expect Results

Active surveillance for prostate cancer is used to avoid treatment side effects in men with a very low risk of prostate cancer progression.

Because prostate cancer grows very slowly, men who are diagnosed when the cancer is very small may never have signs and symptoms of the disease. Many may live out their normal life spans before the cancer ever grows large enough to require treatment.

Active surveillance for prostate cancer may be appropriate for you if:

  • Your cancer is small. If your cancer is found early, while it's still small and limited to one area of your prostate, active surveillance may be a reasonable choice.
  • Your Gleason score is low. Active surveillance may be best suited for men with a low Gleason score (usually 6 or lower), which indicates a less aggressive, slower growing (indolent) form of cancer.
  • You have other serious health problems. If you have other advanced health problems, such as severe heart disease, that limit your life expectancy and that could potentially be made worse by treatment of prostate cancer, you may opt for active surveillance.

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