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Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer

Our physicians may suggest a management option called “active surveillance” when the prostate tumor:

  • Has a low volume of cancer
  • Appears to be slow growing
  • Has a low-risk of progressing
  • Is not causing any symptoms

After the initial diagnostic biopsy, a restaging MRI and biopsy provides physicians with more information about the tumor and helps them determine if active surveillance is the appropriate strategy for a patient. The advantage of this option is the patient can be spared the potential side effects associated with surgery and radiation therapy, which may include erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

The active surveillance approach typically involves following the patient’s PSA levels closely as well as performing repeat biopsies at regular intervals to ensure the cancer is not progressing or changing. If the cancer becomes larger or more aggressive, other treatments -- such as surgery or radiation -- can be initiated, with excellent results.

Active Surveillance and Age

Although older men are more typically counseled toward active surveillance, younger men with low risk cancers may also consider this option. Biological age (the current health of your body) is more important than chronological age when considering this and other treatment options. The Specialized Oncology Care & Research in the Elderly (SOCARE) clinic at the University of Chicago Medicine assists the medical team in evaluating older patients for active surveillance and other prostate cancer therapies.

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