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What to Expect During Watchful Waiting for Prostate Cancer

If you opt for watchful waiting, your doctor will monitor you. You’ll likely see your doctor about every three to six months. At each visit you’ll get a PSA blood test. You may also get a brief physical examination, including a digital rectal exam (DRE).

If your PSA starts going up, the doctor will watch carefully how fast it is rising. This rate of change is called the PSA velocity. Based on the results, your doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy to see if the cancer is becoming more aggressive. He or she can also help you decide whether you want to pursue treatment, and if so, when.

You and your doctor may define a point that means you’ll start treatment. For instance, you may decide that you’ll get treated if your PSA climbs to a certain level. Or you may plan to start treatment if you begin to have certain symptoms, such as bone pain.