Month 56 – Watchful Waiting Increases

I was struggling with a topic for this month’s post.  You read in my 54-month update that things are going well for me, and I hate sounding like a broken record month after month.  But then this article appeared and I knew that I had to comment on it.

“Watchful Waiting” Becoming More Common for Prostate Cancer Patients

As a certified geek who likes numbers, I get the science and statistics behind moving to a watchful waiting or active surveillance model.  As a human being, putting “wait” in the same sentence with “cancer” is so counter-intuitive that it boggles my mind.  But, as a human being living with a mild version of the common side-effects of treatment (incontinence and impotence), it also makes me wonder if the watchful waiting approach could have been for me.  That conundrum is the infuriating part of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Treatment decisions are very personal.  If I was 65, 70, or 80 years old when I was diagnosed and I was a candidate for watchful waiting, I may have given it much greater consideration as an option.  But I wasn’t.  I was 52 years old when I was diagnosed, and in my mind I wanted to maximize my chances of getting to 65, 70, or 80 years old.  I wanted a Plan A (radical prostatectomy) and the option for a Plan B (radiation, chemo, hormone therapy, etc.) in case Plan A wasn’t effective.

Was I “over-treated,” as the article suggests so many prostate cancer patients are?  That’s one of those nagging but unanswerable questions.  I’m alive, and it is what it is at this point.  No going back.

So if you’re newly diagnosed, I’m sorry to say that you have some tough choices ahead of you.  Do your research; decide what’s important to you and what you can live with (or without) in a post-treatment world; and take as much time as you need to come to a decision that you can live with for the rest of your life.

Trends in Management for Patients With Localized Prostate Cancer, 1990-2013