According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among men of all races...”
Our team at the Chicago Prostate Cancer Center is committed to providing our patients and their loved ones with as much information as possible to navigate the difficult decisions regarding prostate cancer treatment options. Our Chicago area cancer treatment services include Prostate Biopsy services, Low Dose Radiation Brachytherapy, Focal Therapy, and Active Surveillance.
What is Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer?
Active surveillance (also referred to as expectant management) for men with prostate cancer involves the delay of immediate treatment, such as radiation or surgery, if there is no evidence that the patient is at immediate risk for disease progression.
Who is a Good Candidate for Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer?
Active surveillance is an ideal option for men who meet the following criteria:
- Men who have the ability to live with cancer without worry reducing their quality of life
- Men who are willing to commit to the serial exams, PSA’s and biopsies
- Men who are most concerned about the potential side effects of treatments
- Men who value near term quality of life to a greater extent than any long term consequences that could occur
Each man should carefully weigh the potential loss of quality of life with treatment (radiation or surgery), against the possibility that the disease may progress requiring more aggressive therapy.
When it comes to choosing active surveillance each patient needs to weigh their treatment options carefully with the help of their physician.
What to Expect During Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer
You can be sure to expect regular visits to the Doctor, usually every few months:
During active surveillance, men undergo periodic evaluations including PSA tests every three to six months, digital rectal examinations (DRE) at least once a year, and prostate biopsies every 1-2 years as determined by your oncologist. If there is evidence that the cancer is growing or has changed, treatment is immediately recommended with the intention of curing the disease. With appropriate surveillance, patients can be reclassified as being at higher risk for disease progression and receive definitive therapy without substantially decreasing the chance of cure.
What are the Risks of Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer?
Active surveillance is only offered as an option to patients who show very low risk for cancer growth, however there are risks associated with this delayed treatment option:
While it is important to work with your doctor to discuss these guidelines in the context of your own specific health situation, it is also important to check your feelings: patients need to have the correct mindset for this option, as knowledge of having cancer and not treating it, can cause anxiety. We work hand in hand with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago, which hosts a Patient Support Group that helps men cope with prostate cancer treatment concerns.
If you ever have any questions, contact us and we are here to help!