Things to know about living with prostate cancer
If prostate cancer is found at an early stage and is growing slowly, then treating the cancer at this stage may cause more harm than the disease itself. This is because prostate cancer treatments can cause side effects, such as not being able to maintain an erection and leaking urine.
In this case a man may want to discuss with his doctor the option of postponing treatment. If he chooses to postpone treatment, the cancer will be carefully monitored for any signs that is getting worse. If there are any signs that the cancer is starting to get worse, or he changes his mind at any stage, there is the option of getting the cancer treated.
Watchful waiting is often used for men who are older or men who have other health problems. Regular prostate checks will be used to see whether the cancer gets worse.
Active surveillance may be chosen when biopsy findings show the man has low-risk prostate cancer with a low chance of the cancer getting worse in the short to medium term. Active surveillance monitoring involves:
- A PSA test ever 3-6 months
- A DRE at least once a year
- Another prostate biopsy within 6-12 months, then a biopsy at least every 2-5 years.
Men on active surveillance are more likely to die from another cause than from their prostate cancer, but some men on active surveillance will still develop more aggressive disease and may require curative treatment. Some men find active surveillance psychologically stressful and some men decide to exit the programme in favour of curative treatment or watchful waiting.