Active surveillance for prostate cancer

Active surveillance is a way of monitoring prostate cancer that isn’t causing any symptoms or problems and is considered to be low risk or, in some cases, intermediate risk prostate cancer.

Typically, active surveillance involves PSA tests every 3–6 months, rectal examination every six months, multi-parametric MRI scans, and biopsies at 12 months and three years.

Active surveillance may be a preferred option if the possible treatment side effects would have more impact on your quality of life than the cancer itself. Active surveillance may also be suggested if the cancer is small (low volume) and slow growing (low grade) and is unlikely to spread or cause symptoms. This is generally indicated by a PSA no higher than 20, stage T1–2, and a Gleason score no higher than 6.

If at any stage the cancer shows signs of faster or more aggressive growth, active treatment, which aims to cure the disease, can begin.

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This information was last reviewed in April 2016
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