Screening Tests are important in diagnosing prostate cancers. They consist of a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a blood test called PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen).

In order to maintain a patient’s quality of life (and avoid over-treating patients), some patients with early-stage disease have been placed on active surveillance. Under active surveillance, patients are not treated immediately. Instead, they are monitored closely, and with repeat biopsies, the volume and aggressiveness of their prostate cancer is monitored. Prostate cancer treatment is then offered when a patient’s volume increases or if the aggressiveness of the prostate cancer worsens (or if the patient no longer wants to remain on active surveillance). At that time, either surgery or radiation therapy is provided to the entire prostate gland with the potential side effects as listed above (impotence, loss of urinary control, change in ejaculation, etc.).

In order to maintain a patient’s quality of life, some patients with early-stage disease have been placed on a prostate preservation treatment called active surveillance. Under active surveillance, patients are not treated immediately. Instead, they are monitored closely, and with repeat biopsies, the volume and aggressiveness of their cancer is monitored. Treatment is then offered when a patient’s cancer volume increases or its aggressiveness worsens (or if the patient no longer wants to remain on active surveillance). At that time, either surgery or radiation therapy is provided to the entire prostate gland with the potential side effects as listed above (impotence, loss of urinary control, change in ejaculation, etc.).

One of the shortcomings with an active surveillance approach to prostate preservation is that because patients are not being treated promptly and treatment is delayed until there is further progression of their cancer (either in terms of volume or aggressiveness), it’s possible that they will ultimately develop more volume of disease. If this happens, a patient’s chance of being cured is decreased, and their cancer can actually spread outside the prostate where it is no longer curable. Because of the delay in treatment, the outcomes for a number of patients on this particular prostate preservation approach will be less than optimal.

Clearly, a prostate preservation middle ground has to be available for patients with prostate cancer. On one hand, we do not want to over-treat patients, but we do not want to delay treatment to the point that patients have lost the chance of being cured, either. The Prostate Cancer Institute of LA utilize various prostate preservation techniques depending on each patient’s unique disease.

What is the Downside of Active Surveillance?

treatments for prostate issues beverly hills
One of the shortcomings with an active surveillance approach is that because patients are not being treated promptly and treatment is delayed until there is further progression of their cancer (either in terms of volume or aggressiveness), it’s possible that they will ultimately develop more volume of disease. If this happens, a patient’s chance of being cured is decreased, and their prostate cancer can actually spread outside the prostate where it is no longer curable. Because of the delay in treatment, the outcomes for a number of patients on active surveillance will be less than optimal.

Clearly, a middle ground has to be available for patients with prostate cancer. On one hand, we do not want to over-treat patients with prostate cancer, but we do not want to delay treatment to the point that patients have lost the chance of being cured, either.

Next, read about High Intensity Focused Ultrasound.

For more information, visit WebMD.com.