Objectives To learn from patients their rationale for enrollment in active surveillance (AS) for low-risk prostate cancer as an alternative to primary treatment. Methods A rank-order survey was designed to assess the relative influence of factors that contributed to the decision to elect AS. The survey was mailed to 185 patients enrolled in AS at our university-based urologic oncology practice. Participants were also asked whether they had been offered AS as an alternative to primary treatment by the urologist who had initially diagnosed their cancer. Results The survey was returned by 105 (57%) of 185 patients. AS was offered to 38 (36%) of 105 patients by the physician who had made the initial diagnosis. Patients most frequently reported physician influence as the greatest contributor to their decision to elect AS (73%). Patients also cited concerns regarding the potential side effects of incontinence (48%) and erectile dysfunction (44%) associated with therapy as reasons for choosing AS. Conclusions The results of the present study have shown that patients are heavily influenced by physicians in their decision to elect AS. Notably, the majority of our sampled patients were not offered AS at diagnosis. Evidence has indicated that AS is an appropriate approach for low-risk prostate cancer and should be discussed with patients in this risk category.
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