Quality of life in men undergoing active surveillance for localized prostate cancer

J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2012 Dec;2012(45):242-9. doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgs026.


Active surveillance is an important arrow in the quiver of physicians advising men with prostate cancer. Quality-of-life considerations are paramount for patient-centered decision making. Although the overall deleterious impact on health is less dramatic than for those who pursue curative treatment, men on active surveillance also suffer sexual dysfunction and distress. Five-year outcomes revealed more erectile dysfunction (80% vs 45%) and urinary leakage (49% vs 21%) but less urinary obstruction (28% vs 44%) in men undergoing prostatectomy. Bowel function, anxiety, depression, well-being, and overall health-related quality of life (HRQOL) were similar after 5 years, but at 6-8 years, other domains of HRQOL, such as anxiety and depression, deteriorated significantly for those who chose watchful waiting. Further research is needed to compare prospectively HRQOL outcomes in men choosing active surveillance and those never diagnosed with prostate cancer, in part to help weigh the potential benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Decision Making
  • Depression
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatectomy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Watchful Waiting*