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Prostate Cancer: Active Surveillance

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In most cases, early prostate cancer does not cause symptoms, and it isn’t until the late stages that men sometimes experience them.  This is why it’s so important to get an annual prostate cancer screening.

When patients develop symptoms from prostate cancer, including trouble urinating, leakage, burning with urination, blood in their urine or new bone or back pain, it’s often in advanced stages.  Prostate cancer is most often diagnosed through routine screening which should include both a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test and a digital rectal exam, and the diagnoses is then confirmed by a prostate biopsy.

Prostate cancer can be fatal if left untreated. However, in many cases, prostate cancer is very slow-growing.  The team at Cone Health is dedicated to creating treatment plans that are effective while taking into account your personal values and treatment goals.  In fact, for many patients, we are often able to safely delay treatment indefinitely while actively monitoring for disease progression.  This is called active surveillance and is designed for patients with low-risk, low-volume prostate cancer.

The purpose of active surveillance is to avoid unnecessary treatment which could potentially impact a patient’s quality of life.  While on active surveillance, patients are seen every six months for a PSA test and a rectal exam to monitor the cancer. We also use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and new genetic tests when appropriate and with any changes we may decide to repeat a biopsy to look for cancer progression.

Fortunately, our area has an exceptional network of primary care physicians, urologists, oncologists and other related health providers dedicated to screening, properly diagnosing and treating prostate cancer in patients throughout the community.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Benjamin Herrick is a urologist in Greensboro and a member of the Cone Health medical staff. He received a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from the University of North Carolina in 2000 and his master’s degree in physiology from Georgetown in 2004. Dr. Herrick also received a Doctor of Medicine from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 2008. He completed his residency in general surgery in 2010 and in urology in 2014 at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.