Active surveillance

This is the name given to monitoring a diagnosed prostate cancer without actually treating it.

Once the diagnosis of prostate cancer has been confirmed by taking a biopsy and is deemed to be low-risk, an active surveillance regime may be undertaken.  This involves regular PSA tests and rectal examinations, every 3-6 months, and yearly or second-yearly biopsies to ensure no progression has occurred.  If the cancer remains stable, men are able to stay on active surveillance.  However, if there is evidence of disease progression, treatment options to cure the cancer may begin.

Active surveillance is popular with men over 70 who have been diagnosed with low grade cancers or who have other illnesses that make traditional treatments inappropriate.  It is also popular with younger men with low grade, early diagnosed cancers, who have no symptoms and are reluctant to be treated for life-style reasons, at this stage.

The biggest fear with active surveillance lies in the possibility that the cancer may progress to an incurable stage while waiting.  This risk is possible, but small due to the tight follow-up that is required with the regime.

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