Active surveillance for low-risk localized prostate cancer: what do men and their partners think?

Active surveillance (AS) is recognized as a reasonable treatment option for low-risk localized prostate cancer (LPC) but continues to be chosen by a minority of men. To date, limited data are available regarding reasons why men with low-risk LPC adopt AS.

The aim of this study is to better understand conceptualizations, experiences and reasons why men with low-risk LPC and their partners adopt AS.

We conducted five focus groups (FGs), three among men with low-risk LPC who had chosen AS and two with their partners. FGs were video/audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using qualitative thematic analysis.

A total of 12 men and 6 partners (all women) participated in FG discussions. The most common reasons for choosing AS were seeing the LPC as 'small' or 'low grade' without need for immediate treatment and trusting their physician's AS recommendation. The most common concerns about AS were perceived unreliability of prostate specific antigen, pain associated with prostate biopsies and potential cancer progression. Partners saw themselves as very involved in their husbands' treatment decision-making process, more than men acknowledged them to be. Multiple terms including 'watchful waiting' were used interchangeably with AS. There appeared to be a lack of understanding that AS is not simply 'doing nothing' but is actually a recognized management option for low-risk LPC.

Emphasizing the low risk of a man's LPC and enhancing physician trust may increase acceptability of AS. Standardizing terminology and presenting AS as a reasonable and recognized management option may also help increase its adoption.

Family practice. 2016 Dec 29 [Epub ahead of print]

Arun Mallapareddi, Julie Ruterbusch, Elyse Reamer, Susan Eggly, Jinping Xu

Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA and., Department of Oncology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA., Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA and .