The primary goal of active surveillance (AS) is to prevent overtreatment by selecting patients with low-risk prostate cancer (PCa) and closely monitoring them so that definitive treatment can be offered when needed. With the increasing popularity of AS as a management strategy for men with localized PCa, it is important to understand all the contemporary guidelines and criteria that exist for AS and the differences among them. No single optimal management strategy for clinically localized, early-stage disease has been universally accepted. The implementation of AS varies widely between institutions, from inclusion criteria to follow-up protocols, with the most notable differences seen in maximum accepted Gleason score, T-stage and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) parameters. The objectives of this review were to systematically summarize the current literature on AS strategy, present an overview of the various published guidelines and criteria that are used for AS at several major institutions as well as discuss goals and trade-offs of the various criteria. A comprehensive search of the PubMed and Embase databases from 1990 to 2017 was performed to identify studies pertaining to AS criteria and trends. Trends in AS uptake and use in Canada, USA and Europe were reviewed to demonstrate the current trends and outcomes of AS to offer greater insight into the differences, nature and efficacy of various AS protocols. AS is a compelling antidote to the current PCa overtreatment phenomena; however, when considering patients for AS it is important to understand the differences between protocols, and review published results to appreciate the impact on follow-up.
Keywords: Active surveillance (AS); prostate cancer (PCa); prostatic neoplasms; review.