Active Surveillance is a revolutionary concept: The thought you can monitor prostate cancer rather than treat prostate cancer. This is a surprising development because anything called cancer, one would assume requires immediate and aggressive curative therapy. This anomaly now where there is a subtype of prostate cancer, we call low risk prostate cancer, that never spreads and never causes harm–has only come to medical attention over the last 5-8 years. It is causing quite a stir in the medical world now, because we have this huge industry that’s been built over the last 20 years to try and aggressively cure all forms of prostate cancer.
So we’ve got different schools of thought now that are sort of at odds with each other. There is a wealth of scientific proof that low risk prostate cancer is safe to watch. But it’s taking time for the doctors to learn about this and to accept and be willing to act on it. It is estimated somewhere between 30-40% of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States every year are eligible for Active Surveillance. That would be close to 100,000 men annually that could safely watch their prostate cancer rather than treat it.
It’s important to know all this background about what’s going on in the medical world, because people tend to get confusing messages from their physicians – different doctors will have different view points. It’s important to realize this is here to stay, it is a medical fact that it is safe to watch prostate cancer. That’s the starting point.
Following that of course, there are different methods of monitoring – some centers use regular biopsies, frequent PSA testing, and different types of thresholds for deciding who has the type of cancer that does need treatment. I won’t go into that at this point, because that is a complex area, but the first and most important take home message is that this idea — it’s safe to watch certain types of prostate cancer is an established medical fact. Some doctors, unfortunately are still unaware of this fact.
LEARN ABOUT SKY (low risk PCa) and Active Surveillance www.pcri.org