Watchful waiting, also called expectant therapy, is sometimes recommended for men who have an early stage prostate cancer and no symptoms, or are elderly or sick with other medical problems.
The theory behind watchful waiting is that some prostate cancers grow very slowly and may never develop into a symptomatic or life-threatening stage of cancer. For such a slow-growing cancer, the risks and side effects of the other possible treatments for prostate cancer (such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy) may not seem worthwhile as compared with the low-risk of the growth of prostate cancer.
However, no one knows for sure which prostate cancers are likely to grow quickly and which may grow slowly. After careful discussion with your doctor, you may choose watchful waiting. You will still receive close follow-up for any change in your condition.
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
Prostate cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003134-pdf.pdf. Accessed October 2, 2015.
Prostate cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed October 2, 2015.
Prostate cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/genitourinary-cancer/prostate-cancer. Updated November 2013. Accessed October 2, 2015.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD