Harvard Men's Health Watch

Prostate cancer: Treat or wait?

Choosing active surveillance for prostate cancer depends on carefully weighing medical as well as personal factors.

Image: Thinkstock

An approach called active surveillance allows some men with low-risk cancer to delay the decision to treat.

One of the toughest health decisions a man may have to make is whether to be treated immediately after a diagnosis of low-risk prostate cancer. Such cancers grow slowly, and it may take more than a decade for the disease to cause symptoms—if it ever does. Meanwhile, treating the cancer with radiation or surgery comes with a chance of bothersome and potentially permanent complications, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

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