More men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer, but most do not die of the disease. You may not be aware of this when you decide to have a PSA test, or if you are told you have cancer. At this stage, your doctor may not have enough medical information to know if your cancer will cause you harm or threaten your life. But once you are told you have prostate cancer, you are likely to want to be offered treatment.
If you look on the patients information section, you will realise that there may also be a disadvantage to having a PSA test. If it leads to an early diagnosis of cancer, this could be a non-aggressive, slow-growing tumour. Almost one third of detected prostate cancers turn out not to be life-threatening. But before this is confirmed, you may have undergone invasive and sometimes painful internal, diagnostic tests.
Active Surveillance is a new, conservative treatment strategy suitable for some patients with early prostate cancer. It aims to protect the quality of your life during the early management of your condition by delaying invasive therapy, while closely monitoring the disease, sometimes for years, in the hope that you can avoid radical treatment.
The PRIAS Project (Prostate Cancer Research International Active Surveillance) is an online protocol for doctors to follow with patients. It is a European initiative but open to all. Patients who are suitable can find out more information at www.prias-project.org.
Taking part in an Active Surveillance treatment programme like PRIAS means patients and doctors commit to working together as a team. Your PSA level will be monitored regularly, as well as your symptoms and the results of other marker tests. Only if the pattern changes and there is an indication that the cancer is developing, will further, more invasive, treatment be offered.