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Active surveillance for prostate cancer

Active surveillance means that the prostate cancer is watched closely for signs of progression, but no immediate treatment is given. As mentioned previously, prostate cancer can often be a slow growing cancer. Depending on the age and health of the patient, it is possible that some of these small cancers be clinically insignificant. In other words, the prostate cancer may not grow enough to cause any problems during the patient's lifetime. Treating this group of patients may therefore be unnecessary (ie over-treatment).

Active surveillance is used to ensure that these group of patients are not treated unnecessarily. It involves monitoring the PSA blood test closely at 3 monthly intervals and repeating your prostate biopsy on a yearly basis to ensure that your cancer is not progressing.

Choosing active surveillance can be a difficult and complicated decision. It is therefore important that you discuss your disease with a specialist who will guide you through the process, to see if it is a safe option for you.

Active surveillance is reserved for patients with small tmours (as seen on prostate biopsy) and biopsies which look less aggressive under the microscope (ie. a low Gleason grade - generally less than 7).