What is active surveillance?
Active surveillance (AS) is a surveillance strategy with selectively delayed treatment for prostate cancer. This means that the treatment of prostate cancer tumors can be delayed until the doctor treating the case has evidence that the tumor shows an aggressively increasing growth rate. As soon as an increase in the aggressiveness of the tumor is established, the patient will be offered invasive treatment such as an operation or radiation.
Active surveillance can only be used without risk on patients with tumors that are contained inside the prostate and on tumors with a low rate of aggressiveness. It is used mainly as an option for older men in a poor state of health in order to avoid the risks and side effects of other methods of treatment. During their lifetimes many of these men will not experience any symptoms of their prostate tumors whatsoever. Active surveillance can also be a therapy option for younger men who want to delay the possible side effects of invasive treatment for as long as possible. However, it has not been sufficiently researched if active surveillance poses a risk for, in particular, younger men.