You may choose watchful waiting if the risks and possible side effects of treatment outweigh the possible benefits. Your doctor may offer this choice if you are older or have other serious health problems. Your doctor may also suggest watchful waiting if you are diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer that seems to be slowly growing. Your doctor will offer you treatment if symptoms occur or get worse.
Watchful waiting avoids or delays the side effects of surgery and radiation, but this choice has risks. It may reduce the chance to control cancer before it spreads. Also, it may be harder to cope with surgery and radiation therapy as you age.
You may decide against watchful waiting if you do not want to live with an untreated cancer. If you choose watchful waiting but grow concerned later, you should discuss your feelings with your doctor. A different approach is nearly always available.
Watchful waiting is under study. See "The Promise of Cancer Research" for information about this study.
You may want to ask your doctor these questions before choosing watchful waiting: