Health Library: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Expectant Therapy

What is expectant therapy?

Expectant therapy is to "watch and wait" while carefully observing and monitoring the prostate cancer, instead of treating the cancer right away. Some doctors use the term "active surveillance" to describe this approach. This may be recommended by your doctor if the prostate cancer is in a very early stage, especially in the cases of older men with small tumors that are:

  • Expected to grow very slowly

  • Confined to one area of the prostate

  • Not causing any symptoms or other medical problems

Because prostate cancer cells often spread very slowly, many older men who have the disease may not need treatment, such as surgery or radiation therapy, which can often cause bothersome side effects. However, expectant therapy usually includes routine doctor examinations, such as digital rectal examinations (DRE), prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, and possibly yearly prostate biopsies.

Other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy, may be considered if it becomes clear that the cancer is growing or if it begins to cause symptoms.