Active surveillance for early (localised) prostate cancer
Active surveillance means that your doctors will keep a close eye on you to see if the cancer is growing significantly.
Most low-grade, early-stage prostate cancers are very slow-growing and may never cause any symptoms. For this reason, some men decide with their specialists to wait and see whether the cancer is getting bigger (progressing) before starting any treatment.
You will usually have frequent digital rectal examinations and blood tests every 1–3 months to check your PSA levels. You’ll be asked if you’ve developed any new symptoms and you may also have prostate biopsies every few years.
If these regular tests show that the cancer is starting to grow, your doctors will recommend treatment that aims to cure the cancer, such as surgery or radiotherapy. If the cancer isn’t growing or developing, it’s safe to continue with active surveillance.
Advantages and disadvantages of active surveillance
Many men who choose active surveillance may avoid the complications and side effects of surgery, radiotherapy or hormonal therapy.
Some men find it difficult to wait and see whether their cancer progresses before starting any treatment. Some men will need surgery, radiotherapy or hormonal therapy anyway if their cancer shows signs of developing.