Prostate Cancer Treatment | Watchful Waiting

Prostate cancer often grows slowly, so your doctor may recommend monitoring the cancer.

What is active surveillance and watchful waiting?

In lieu of treatment, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting or active surveillance of the cancer.

  • Active surveillance –  There is testing on a regular basis so treatment can be started when needed. Testing includes PSA, DRE and repeat prostate biopsies.
  • Watchful waiting – Now more commonly referred to as observation, it involves testing on a regular basis so that supportive care can be given if symptoms from the cancer are likely to start.  Testing includes PSA and DRE.

There is shared decision making with physician and patient.  A patient's age, health, the tumor size, and treatment risks each are considered in the decision.

Active Surveillance in Prostate Cancer Treatment

Regular screenings are part of active surveillance

Active surveillance can mean regular screening tests to check the advance of the disease. The screening tests can include:

  • Digital rectal examination
  • Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test
  • Imaging that includes MRI and ultrasound
  • Biopsy



Watchful Waiting in Prostate Cancer Treatment

Hands-Off Approach to Treatment

Watchful waiting can involve fewer tests and screenings. This recommendation may be made if the cancer is not expected to cause you major problems, or you have health conditions that would make treatment too difficult.