DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My father, 71, was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer last month. He is worried about the side effects of surgery and radiation, so he has instead decided to wait and see if the cancer progresses. His doctor agrees that he does not need to have treatment anytime soon. Should I have him get a second opinion?
ANSWER: Active surveillance is a reasonable approach for men with low-risk prostate cancer. However, prostate cancer has a wide range of possible treatment options. It is important to consider all the options before making a decision. Obtaining a second opinion often can be quite useful when deciding on the best approach.
Prostate cancer is common, particularly in older men, and it often grows slowly. Because of that, many men with prostate cancer actually die due to some other cause. About 1 in 6 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives, but only about 1 in 30 actually dies from the disease. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the forms of prostate cancer that may not require treatment right away and those that may be aggressive and need to be addressed more quickly.