Prostate cancer is often a slow growing disease that does not need to be aggressively treated. During active surveillance, the cancer is carefully monitored for signs of progression. A PSA blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) are usually administered every six months along with a yearly prostate biopsy. If symptoms develop, or if tests indicate that the cancer is growing, treatment may be warranted.
Active surveillance is recommended for men with low-risk prostate cancer who have a life expectancy of less than 10 years. Men with low-risk cancers often have a relatively low PSA level and low tumor grade, or Gleason score. Their tumor is small and is confined to one side of the prostate. Active surveillance is also recommended for men with a life expectancy of up to 20 years who have very-low risk, or clinically insignificant, prostate cancer.