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Active surveillance for low-risk prostate cancers

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Every year, over 200,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. And of those cases, it's estimated that more than a hundred thousand men have what's considered to be low-risk disease. Urologist Matthew Cooperberg of the University of California, San Francisco, says these cases are best served with what's called "active surveillance."

Cooperberg:  What that means is a careful observation of the PSA, so we follow the blood tests every three to six months. And we repeat a biopsy every one or two years to make sure that there's no sign of cancer progression. We have about a thousand men that have gone down that pathway at UCSF. This was one of the first centers in actually the world to really promote active surveillance as an option for low-risk disease and about a third of the men will ultimately need treatment — which means two-thirds don't — at least within three to five years of follow-up and many men can avoid or at least delay the potential costs and side effects of treatment.

Narrator:         And while there has been controversy about the over-treatment of low-risk cases, Cooperberg says the best solution is to treat appropriately. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.