Review Article

Active surveillance and focal therapy for low-intermediate risk prostate cancer

Laurence Klotz


Low risk and many cases of low-intermediate risk prostate cancer, are indolent, have little or no metastatic potential, and are not life threatening. Major advances have been made in understanding who these patients are, and in encouraging the use of conservative management in such individuals. Conservative management incorporates the early identification of those ‘low risk’ patients who harbor higher risk disease, and benefit from definitive therapy. Based on the current algorithm of PSA followed by systematic biopsy, this represents about 30% of newly diagnosed low risk patients. A further small proportion of patients with low risk disease demonstrate biological progression to higher grade disease. Men with lower risk disease can defer treatment, usually for life. Men with higher risk disease that can be localized to a relatively small volume of the prostate may be candidates for focal, prostate sparing therapy. The results of active surveillance, embodying conservative management with selective delayed intervention for the subset who are re-classified as higher risk over time based on repeat biopsy, imaging, or biomarker results, have shown that this approach is safe in the intermediate to long term, with a 1-5% cancer specific mortality at 15 years. Further refinement of the surveillance approach is ongoing, incorporating MRI, targeted biopsies, and molecular biomarkers.

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