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Watchful Waiting

Watchful waiting, also called expectant therapy, is sometimes recommended for patients who have an early stage prostate cancer and no symptoms, or are elderly or sick with other medical problems.

The theory behind watchful waiting is that some prostate cancers grow very slowly and may never develop into a symptomatic or life-threatening stage of cancer. For such a slow-growing cancer, the risks and side effects of the other possible treatments for prostate cancer (such as medication, surgery , and radiation therapy ) may not seem worthwhile as compared with the low-risk of the growth of prostate cancer.

However, no one knows for sure which prostate cancers are likely to grow quickly and which may grow slowly. After careful discussion with your doctor you may choose watchful waiting. You will still receive close follow-up for any change in your condition.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty urinating, including decreased stream, pain, or burning on urination
  • A pain that doesn't go away, especially if it's always in the same place
  • Bone pain, numbness, or difficulty walking
  • New or unusual lumps, bumps, or swelling
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea , or loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A fever or cough that doesn't go away
  • Unusual rashes, bruises, or bleeding
  • Any symptoms that you are concerned about

References

Detailed guide: prostate cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org. Accessed October 9, 2008.

Prostate cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/prostate. Accessed October 9, 2008.



Last reviewed September 2014 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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