Medical News and Perspectives
January 11, 2012

Expert Panel Advocates Surveillance for Men With Low-Risk Prostate Cancer

JAMA. 2012;307(2):133. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1965

Avoiding the word “cancer” when talking to patients about their low-grade, localized prostate cancer may convince more men—at least 100 000 each year—to consider delaying immediate treatment in favor of active surveillance, recommended an independent panel convened in December by the National Institutes of Health.

Although the experts' state-of-the-science statement did not suggest a less anxiety-provoking term, it strongly called for better ways for physicians to counsel patients about active monitoring, which is sometimes presented to patients as “doing nothing.” Primary care physicians in particular “could set the stage for surveillance to be an alternative [to curative treatment] if the patient chooses to be screened” for prostate cancer, said Patricia Ganz, MD, the panel chair and director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research at the University of California in Los Angeles.