Active Surveillance

Active surveillance (also called “watchful waiting” or “watch and wait”) may be the safest approach for your care. Your health care team may take this approach if there are minimal changes in your test results or blood counts and no symptoms. With watchful waiting, you see a doctor regularly but don’t begin treatment until needed. Waiting to treat your cancer can be difficult to deal with, causing you stress and anxiety about what the future holds. It can be frustrating to feel like you’re not doing anything to fight the cancer.

You can regain control of your care by taking the active steps listed below to help you cope with watchful waiting.

Tips for Coping with Active Surveillance

  • Ask your health care team questions until you understand why watchful waiting is a good choice for you. Remember that you, too, are a key member of your team, so speak up if you have questions or concerns.
  • Ask your health care team about all of the treatment options that are available to you. It is important that you understand them so you and your health care team can make decisions together about the best choices for you.
  • Learn and recognize any signs or symptoms that you should tell your health care team about right away.
  • Accept that you do not have control over some aspects of your cancer.
  • Keep written notes about signs or symptoms you notice and any other questions you have. Take notes during your conversations with your health care team. You may find it useful to bring someone with you to your medical appointments.
  • Know that you will be more anxious when it gets close to your doctor’s appointments. Be gentle with yourself when you are feeling stressed.
  • Yoga, breathing relaxation exercises, and doing activities you enjoy can help you relax.
  • Focus on what gives you pleasure now, instead of worrying about the future. Make time for what you really want. Pamper yourself in small ways — take a warm bath, read a good book, or buy yourself a small gift.
  • Know that it’s normal to have fears, but practice letting them go. Try to picture them floating away, leaving as you breathe out, being washed away, or being vaporized.