For men with slow-growing forms of prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend active surveillance as a preferred management strategy. This strategy can avoid the potential side effects of more aggressive prostate cancer treatments without putting patients at an increased risk of cancer progression.
Prostate cancer is cancer in the form of a tumor or cancerous cells that have formed in the prostate gland. The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that produces seminal fluid. One of the most common forms of cancer in men, prostate cancer is often slow-growing and does not always require immediate, aggressive treatment.
For men with appropriately low-risk prostate cancer, the American Urological Association recommends active surveillance as the preferred prostate cancer management strategy. Active surveillance allows men to defer or potentially even avoid side effects from more aggressive treatments such as radiation or surgery. While active surveillance is an option for some patients, not everyone feels comfortable with this option.
Also known as active surveillance with curative intent, this approach allows your doctor to closely monitor the prostate cancer with:
- MRI imaging
- Physical exams
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests
- Personalized genomic testing
If these tests show the prostate cancer has become more aggressive, your doctor may recommend more aggressive treatments.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that active surveillance for men with low risk prostate cancer is safe, and men managed in this fashion do not have an increased risk of cancer metastasis or death compared to those who undergo immediate aggressive treatment. As this strategy allows many men to preserve their quality of life without compromising cancer control, active surveillance has become the preferred prostate cancer management strategy for men with appropriately low risk cancers.
Who Is a Candidate?
If your cancer is confined to the prostate and is not an aggressive form of the disease – meaning it is unlikely to spread quickly – you may be a candidate for this approach. Additionally, if you are particularly ill or medically fragile, the risks of treatment may outweigh the benefits.
You may be eligible for active surveillance of prostate cancer if you have:
- A life expectancy of less than 10 years, based on your health or age
- A lower Gleason score, which determines the aggressiveness of prostate cancer
- A low PSA level that does not change drastically
- Small tumors confined to the prostate (determined from a biopsy)
- The ability and commitment to attend regular follow-up visits for PSA testing
An Individualized Approach
Temple Health and Fox Chase Cancer Center specialists have extensive experience detecting, diagnosing and treating prostate cancer in men. We take a multidisciplinary approach to determining the right care for your diagnosis.
Our urologists, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists and radiologists work as a team to accurately diagnose your cancer and help you make the best treatment decisions depending on your goals and wishes. We deliver outstanding prostate cancer treatment allowing you to retain as much normal function as possible.