Prostate cancer (PC) is the most often diagnosed non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death among men in the United States. As a result, for many years the American Urological Association (AUA) and the American Cancer Society have issued statements recommending screening for PC, resulting in its widespread implementation in the United States. Recently, the United States Preventative Services Task Force gave PC screening a recommendation of D, that is, against PC screening for all men. The AUA countered this recommendation, stating that since the development of PC screening using prostate-specific antigen, a reduction in PC-specific mortality has been seen, and that the risk reduction occurred in a setting in which many of the patients were not aggressively treated for prostate cancer. Active surveillance may be described as a method to potentially delay or obviate the need for treatment in men with clinically insignificant PC or PC thought to be at low risk for progression. Studies have shown no significant difference in outcome or pathology between men with low risk PC who receive treatment at the point of progression and those undergoing immediate treatment. Ongoing studies are evaluating the efficacy and utility of active surveillance for low-risk PC. Interim results of these studies have shown that approximately 30% of patients progress on active surveillance. However, "progression" does not necessarily mean treatment failure; rarely do patients develop locally advanced or metastatic disease. Active surveillance has also been shown to be cost-effective when compared with immediate treatment for PC. Longer follow-up may continue to show an increased benefit of active surveillance as a reasonable initial approach to the management of men with low-risk, clinically localized PC.
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