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Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer: October 21, 2011

He was 62 years old when Dick Devlin learned he had prostate cancer; his first instinct was to fight.

“It’s just devastating to hear the word ‘cancer’ it scares everybody and it scared me, I have to admit it.”

But the more he thought about it, researched it and discussed it with his doctors, Devlin decided to do nothing, in terms of treatment. Instead he opted to engage in ‘active surveillance’.

“Active surveillance was my first course which means that you have biopsies every year or two and PSA test every six months and I did that for about four years,” says Devlin.

Urologist Meir Daller is Devlin’s doctor. He says many of his patients with slow growing prostate cancer choose active surveillance. It keeps their options open.

“We are monitoring them carefully to make sure that when the cancer is evolving when the cancer is progressing that we’ll be able to treat them either with surgery or with radiation,” says Dr. Meir Daller, an urologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

Research shows that active surveillance has quality of life advantages. Monitoring the cancer and waiting to see how it grows cuts down on potential side effects.

“I have all my options open to me, and I have no side effects from any treatment, so far, because I haven’t had treatment so far,” says Devlin.

Still, active surveillance is not the most common method. Far more men choose to eradicate the cancer with radiation or minimally invasive robotic surgery.

“A lot of patients, we tell them they have cancer they become anxious about it they want to be treat,” says Dr. Daller.

Even Devlin hasn’t ruled out surgery, just not now.

“Perhaps later I will need to have that and then I’ll do it.”

“The majority of prostate cancer we cure, we keep following them very closely we do cure them,” says Dr. Daller.

By patients and doctors working together, navigating the best course of action.