Your doctor may suggest active surveillance if you are diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer that seems to be growing slowly. Your doctor may also offer this option if you are older or have other health problems.
Active surveillance is monitoring the prostate cancer until test results imply that your prostate cancer is growing or changing. If you and your doctor agree that active surveillance is a good idea, your doctor will check you regularly (such as every 3 to 6 months, at first). You’ll get digital rectal exams and PSA tests. After about a year, your doctor may order another MRI scan or may suggests another prostate biopsy to check the Gleason score. Your doctor may suggest treatment if your Gleason score rises, your PSA level starts to increase, or you develop symptoms. Your doctor may suggest surgery, radiation therapy, or another type of treatment.
By choosing active surveillance, you are avoiding the side effects of surgery, radiation therapy, or other treatments. However, the risk for some men is that waiting to start treatment may reduce the chance to control cancer before it spreads. Having regular checkups reduces this risk.
For some men, it’s stressful to live with an untreated prostate cancer. If you choose active surveillance but grow concerned later, you should discuss your feelings with your doctor. You can change your mind and have treatment at any time.