Active surveillance is a wait-and-watch approach which your doctor may suggest in cases where a small mass (usually less than 3 cm) is identified. This approach involves periodic observation and evaluation of the tumour for signs of growth as small tumours have a low likelihood of spreading and may not require intervention. However, if the mass shows rapid growth or becomes greater than 3 cm, appropriate treatment is started.
Active surveillance is usually indicated for the elderly with compromised health who may not tolerate treatment well, low grade and low-risk cancers, those at risk of developing multiple tumours and for those anxious about undergoing surgery. If you are suffering from or receiving treatment for another serious medical conditions (poorly controlled diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease), active surveillance of a discovered kidney mass may be suggested until your health stabilises.
During active surveillance, you may undergo a physical examination, blood tests, imaging tests (CT or MRI) or biopsy on a regular basis to evaluate the size of the tumour and see if it has spread to any other part of the body. If your condition has been stable for a few years, your doctor may decide to decrease the frequency of your visits.