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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Active surveillance for prostate cancer

Active surveillance for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer often grows slowly, making active surveillance a treatment option for some men. Nine in 10 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States have localized disease. Localized prostate cancer has not spread outside the prostate and generally does not cause any symptoms.

Older men are more likely to be candidates for active surveillance because treating them with surgery or radiation has not been shown to help them live longer. The decision to monitor prostate cancer instead of treating is made between a patient and his doctor.

In general, active surveillance could be an option for patients whose prostate cancer is:

  • Not causing any symptoms
  • Expected to grow slowly
  • Small and contained within the prostate

Patients under active surveillance at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) may receive regular PSAs and biopsies every one to two years. Other treatment options would be considered if a patient's PSA levels rapidly increases, his doctor finds changes in the patient's digital rectum exam (DRE) or the patient develops new symptoms.

At CTCA®, our doctors consider all information, especially your input, when recommending active surveillance or any treatment plan. If you and your doctor decide active surveillance is appropriate for you, a care team at CTCA will be assigned to you. If your condition changes, your oncologist and care team will be ready to begin treatment. You may also be offered support from clinicians who provide supportive care services, such as nutrition therapy and naturopathic medicine, personalized for your individual needs.

What is active surveillance?

Active surveillance is a treatment approach in which patients are monitored closely for changes in the progression of their cancer and are tested at regular intervals. This approach is reserved for patients with slow-growing, localized cancers who are not experiencing symptoms related to their cancer.

During active surveillance, patients are not treated with therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery unless their cancer appears to be growing or getting worse. In some cases, active surveillance may be the entire course of a patient's treatment plan, as patients and their doctor weigh the risks and benefits of aggressive cancer therapies.