Health Check: Men with prostate cancer opt for 'active surveillance' over treatment


    active surveillance

    More men diagnosed with prostate cancer are choosing not to be treated.

    These are men who are considered at low risk for their cancer to progress.

    At the Miriam Hospital in Providence, they have a team dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

    For those diagnosed with more aggressive cancer, there are many new options.

    "All the treatments have become better, more specific,” said Dr. Dragan Golijanan, who is a urology specialist at the hospital and part of the minimally invasive urology institute there.

    Golijanan said there's a group of men considered low risk who are refusing treatment. They're opting for something called, “active surveillance.”

    "Active surveillance is when you put somebody with prostate cancer on a scheduled, very strict follow-up," he said.

    Golijanan said that includes repeated rectal exams and PSA blood tests. MRI's are also being used to determine if and when another biopsy is needed.

    Across the country, more men with low risk prostate cancer opting for active surveillance.

    "More than 50 percent now are deciding to go for active surveillance," said Golijanan.

    They are choosing the method over radiation therapy and surgery, which have potential side effects and complications.

    "They can become incontinent. They can become severely incontinent. They can lose their sexual function," he said. "When you are assigned to active surveillance, if something changes, we are going to save you."

    Fewer men are also getting PSA tests and rectal exams after a study released in 2012 showed screening did not reduce risk of dying from prostate cancer.

    As a result, Golijanan said more men are being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

    The screening tests are covered by insurance for men 50 and older or younger if you have a family history.

    Click here to learn more.

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