May 30, 2022

Active surveillance in 5 points

Active surveillance in 5 points is intended as a summary of the management of prostate cancer which is very unlikely to change over time. As surprising as it may seem, it may be that, following your diagnosis of prostate cancer, your doctor prefers to wait before starting treatment.

Medically reviewed by Urologist-Surgeon Dr. Thierry Lebeau on 04/26/2022

  • How to explain this?

Often, prostate cancer grows very slowly and for a long time, it may not cause symptoms, spread or be life-threatening. Active surveillance is one way to track your cancer. This aims to monitor cancer and treat it only if necessary.

  • What is active surveillance?

The term active surveillance evokes a notion of inactivity, which is however not the case. On the contrary, it is a dynamic program based on close monitoring of cancer progression including PSA test, digital rectal examination, imaging test and biopsy. Follow-up consists of carrying out examinations at regular intervals, carried out approximately every 3 to 6 months, but this may vary depending on your results.

  • Can I opt for active surveillance?

Active surveillance may be offered to you if few samples are positive following your biopsy, your cancer is low grade (Gleason score of 6) and limited to your prostate, your PSA level is below 10 ng/mL and you have no symptoms. With this approach, the risks of erectile, urinary or intestinal disorders associated with the treatment can be avoided (at least temporarily).

  • Treatment if necessary

If your doctor finds that your cancer is progressing faster than expected or changing grade, then he may recommend active treatment (radical surgery, radiation therapy and/or hormone therapy). About 25% to 30% of men under active surveillance end up in treatment due to signs of cancer progression. The cure rate remains the same as if you had not had active surveillance.

  • What you can feel

It is natural to worry about the likelihood that your cancer may grow and spread faster than expected. Some men may find it too stressful to be actively monitored without receiving active treatment. In such a case, immediate treatment may be a better option. If this concerns you, talk to your doctor.


Take the time to visit each of our pages on this website, as well as our YouTube channel, in order to get familiar with the disease, our expert lectures and webinars, our section on available resources, the support that is offered to you, our events and ways to get involved in advancing the cause.

You have questions or concerns? Don’t hesitate. You can chat with us or contact us at 1-855-899-2873 to discuss with one of our nurses specialized in uro-oncology. They are there to listen, support and answer your questions, as well as those of your family or loved ones. It’s simple and free, like all of our other services.

Webinar for you
Active surveillance as a treatment optionMen's Health – May 2020

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