Advantages and disadvantages of active surveillance
There’s still another approach to treating prostate cancer, and it is called active surveillance. Active surveillance means monitoring prostate cancer actively, and it is often chosen as an alternative for patients with low-risk cancer. Different from other types of cancer, prostate cancer is usually slow-progressing and some types have a very low chance of spreading to other tissue. They are called localized prostate cancer, and they are not associated with very high PSA levels or worrying changes in the Gleason score.
Patients who choose active surveillance over surgery should understand that they need to be in close contact with their doctor and it is very important to listen to every advice. It requires collaborative patients who do not miss an appointment and perform every test without delay.
There are plenty of advantages of active surveillance, especially because patients will not undergo any aggressive treatment, will not experience any side effects, and will maintain their quality of life intact. However, we should also count in several disadvantages, because patients may feel more anxious when they know they have active cancer cells in their prostate, more than one biopsy is likely to be necessary, and in some cases, cancer can have a rapid and unexpected growth (though this is unlikely in low-risk prostate cancer). Since biopsies often have so many side effects and consequences, active surveillance is not for everyone, and it should be applied after making sure patients fully understand the implications.