Seemingly overnight, treatment of men with early-stage prostate cancer has undergone a sea change. Five years ago, nearly all opted for surgery or radiation; now, nearly half are choosing no treatment at all.

The approach is called active surveillance. It means their cancers are left alone but regularly monitored to be sure they are not growing. Just 10 percent to 15 percent of early-stage prostate cancer patients were being treated by active surveillance several years ago. Now, data from three independent sources consistently finds that 40 percent to 50 percent of them are making that choice.

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