Active surveillance with selective delayed intervention for favorable risk prostate cancer

Urol Oncol. Jan-Feb 2006;24(1):46-50. doi: 10.1016/j.urolonc.2005.07.002.


Good risk prostate cancer, defined as a Gleason score of < or = 6, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) <10, and T1c-T2a, now constitutes 50% of newly diagnosed prostate cancer. Recent data from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, Stamey data set on PSA-prostate cancer correlations, and the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database make it very clear that a policy of PSA screening with biopsy for those patients in whom PSA is increased results in the diagnosis, and radical treatment, of a very large proportion of men who do not have life-threatening prostate cancer. Most men with good risk prostate cancer have indolent and slow growing disease. The challenge is to identify those patients who are unlikely to have significant progression, while offering radical therapy to those who are at risk. The approach to favorable risk prostate cancer described in this article uses estimation of PSA doubling time (DT) and repeat biopsy to stratify patients according to the risk of progression. Patients who select this approach are treated initially with active surveillance. Those patients who have a PSA DT of < or = 3 years (based on a minimum of 3 determinations over 6 months) are offered radical intervention. The remaining patients are closely monitored with serial PSA and periodic prostate repeat biopsy at 1, 4, 7, and 10 years. In one series of 299 patients treated in this way, 65% remained free of treatment at 8 years. The prostate cancer specific survival using this approach was 99.3% at 8 years. The majority of patients in this study remain on surveillance. Active surveillance with selective delayed intervention based on PSA DT is a practical middle ground between radical therapy for all, which results in over-treatment of patients with indolent disease, and watchful waiting with palliative therapy only, which results in under-treatment of those with aggressive disease.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen