Prostate biopsy result: a tiny amount of non-aggressive cancer, now under Active Surveillance

Scientist using a microscope, with thanks to the National Cancer Institute for making this photo available freely on Unsplash
"A tiny amount of non-aggressive cancer" is probably the best biopsy result you can get, short of "no sign of any cancer at all." 

And that is why I was so happy to hear those words last week when a urologist gave me the results of the prostate biopsy that I described in some detail here

He delivered this wonderful news as I sat in his office, along with a specialist nurse and an audio recording system. I will come back to the audio recording system in a moment; the make purpose of this blog post is to make the point that not every prostate biopsy brings very bad news. 

Even if you are at elevated risk of prostate cancer—based on family history and/or PSA score—that doesn't mean you're predestined to have a serious case of it. Many men live with a low level of prostate cancer that never produces serious symptoms. So, when a urologist says you should have a prostate biopsy, you probably should, even though a biopsy can be unpleasant and may find some cancer. 

Obviously, what happens after the biopsy will depend on how much cancer is found. If there is no sign of cancer? Great! If there is some cancer? You and your doctors have a sound basis for determining the best course of action. 

In my case, I count myself extremely fortunate to have reached the age of 69 with just a tiny amount of cancer, an amount so small it may never need treatment, although it will be monitored closely (a strategy with a rather cool name: Active Surveillance). 

So, for those readers who've been wondering about the much delayed results of the biopsy that I had in August, there you have it: Stephen Cobb has a tiny amount of non-aggressive cancer." 

The rest of this article provides more details and context, provided in the hope that it will be helpful for anyone going through the prostate cancer diagnosis process.