Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting

Both active surveillance and watchful waiting are ways of monitoring prostate cancer and for some delaying or avoiding the necessity for treatment. The aim of watchful waiting is different from active surveillance in that treatment in watchful waiting begins when the cancer starts to cause symptoms.  The goal of treatment is then to keep the cancer under control rather than getting rid of the cancer completely.
 
Watchful waiting is usually offered to older men, or to those who have other medical conditions which make them unfit for surgery or radiotherapy and who have a cancer which is slow-growing and unlikely to affect their normal life span.
 
Check-ups are often done by the GP and are done less often than with active surveillance. During this time you will have regular PSA tests and check-ups to check that your cancer is not growing too quickly.

Usually you will be asked to have your PSA checked every 4-12 months, depending on your individual situation. From time to time you will have digital rectal examinations as well as your blood tests.

You will not usually need to have repeat prostate biopsies done while on watchful waiting. If there are any changes picked up on these tests your doctor will talk to you about whether you need to start prostate cancer treatment.

 
Date Last Reviewed: 
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Date Last Revised: 
Wednesday, January 21, 2015