In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan used an old Russian proverb, “Trust, but verify,” when negotiating nuclear disarmament with Mikhail Gorbachev.
The resulting Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty established an extensive verification process, which resulted in eliminating 2,692 missiles by 1991, and was followed by 10 years of active surveillance through on-site inspections.
Active surveillance of prostate cancer can produce equally beneficial results. But a shockingly low number of guys who are prescribed a “wait-and-see approach” actually get onsite inspections when they should.
A new study from the University of North Carolina found that only 15% of the 346 men who were tracked after their diagnosis with early-stage prostate cancer made follow-up appointments that adhered to recommended monitoring guidelines.
Those guidelines include getting a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test every six months, a digital rectal exam annually, and repeat biopsies every 18 months following diagnosis.
If you've been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, those follow-up appointments allow your doctor to discover if (and when) the cancer starts to progress.
Then you'll know that active surveillance should end, and active — and very effective — treatment should begin.
It may make you anxious to get those checkups, but there'll be a lot more anxiety if your cancer is left unchecked.
Our suggestion: Make those first two PSA-test appointments immediately upon diagnosis, and get the digital rectal exam at the second one. Then put all future surveillance into your smartphone calendar with a reminder to make appointments or to keep them.