Men undergoing active surveillance for low-risk prostate cancer may not be receiving proper monitoring, a new study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

“This is really an important finding, because before patients and their doctors decide to pursue active surveillance as a management option for prostate cancer, both the physician and patient should agree on a follow-up schedule to closely monitor the cancer,” said Karim Chamie, MD, surgical director of UCLA’s bladder cancer program and a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 37 687 men with prostate cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2007 who received follow-up through 2009. Of those, 3656 men opted to forgo aggressive treatment and receive active surveillance. Researchers found that only 4.5% of patients who received active surveillance were being monitored appropriately.

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However, the study demonstrated that there was a slight but statistically significant increase in follow-up intensity over time, suggesting that as time went on, patients were more likely to receive the appropriate amount of recommended tests.

“What was most surprising was that patients who underwent aggressive treatment for their prostate cancer were more likely to receive routine lab testing and visits with their doctor than those not receiving aggressive treatment,” Chamie said. “In other words, those likely cured through aggressive treatment were followed more closely than patients whose cancers were left untreated.”

Patients receiving active surveillance should be administered a routine test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA), attend office visits for physical examinations, and undergo at least 1 additional prostate biopsy within a 2-year period.


1. University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences. Men who forgo aggressive treatment for prostate cancer don’t receive appropriate monitoring [news release]. EurekAlert! web site.–mwf113015.php. Published December 1, 2015. Accessed December 1, 2015.