In a few clinical situations, patients with a potentially curable low-risk cancer have the treatment option of active surveillance. What is active surveillance and what are the challenges of pursuing that option?
The key benefit of active surveillance is avoiding over-treatment.
In an article for clinicians titled, "Active Surveillance and Cure," I discuss why some candidates for active surveillance (for example, men newly diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer) might turn it down to proceed with therapies with known side- and aftereffects.
In this patient handout, I provide an overview of active surveillance in the setting of potentially curable cancer: Understanding Active Surveillance.
Healthy Survivors who are offered active surveillance as a curative approach understand that active surveillance is...
- the only curative option that defers treatment to avoid over-treatment.
- an option when the cancer is posing no immediate risks and the chance for cure is the same if started now or in response to certain changes found during prescribed testing.
- the best option for some--not all--candidates for this approach.
Patients are not passively waiting for problems; they are actively avoiding over-treatment.
Today, relatively few patients with potentially curable cancers are candidates for active surveillance. That will likely change as diagnostics and therapeutics continue to advance.