The difference between watchful waiting and active surveillance
Watchful waiting is often confused with active surveillance, which is another way of monitoring prostate cancer. The aim of both is to avoid having unnecessary treatment, but there are key differences between them.
- If you do have treatment at any point, it will usually aim to control the cancer rather than cure it.
- It’s generally suitable for men with other health problems who may be less able to cope with treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy, or whose cancer may never cause problems during their lifetime.
- It usually involves fewer tests than active surveillance. These check-ups usually take place at the GP surgery rather than at the hospital.
- If you decide to have treatment at any point, it will usually aim to cure the cancer.
- It is suitable for most men with cancer that is contained in the prostate (localised cancer), and who could cope with treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy if they needed it.
- It usually involves more regular hospital tests than watchful waiting, such as prostate biopsies and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.