If you have localized prostate cancer (cancer that has not spread to distant sites), you may choose to monitor your condition rather than seek immediate treatment. Watchful waiting is one form of expectant management for prostate cancer that may be effective for men with limited life expectancy and slow-growing, low-risk disease.
Track Symptoms Instead of Test Results
Watchful waiting is intended for patients who are too old or too sick with other life-threatening illnesses to benefit from local therapy. Instead of using active surveillance to track routine test results, patients simply observe their own symptoms and inform their doctor if changes occur. The goal of watchful waiting is to observe the prostate cancer until it has metastasized (spread to distant sites) or started to cause symptoms such as pain or blockage of the urinary tract. At that point, patients may choose treatment.
Avoid Side Effects of Treatment and Testing
Similar to active surveillance, patients under watchful waiting may choose to delay treatment because of its associated risks and side effects. With watchful waiting, men with compromised health can also avoid the side effects associated with repeated tests and biopsies.
More About Prostate Cancer in the Health Library