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Diagnosis Tests of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is diagnosed from the results of a biopsy of the prostate gland. If the digital rectal exam of the prostate or the PSA blood test is abnormal, a prostate cancer is suspected. A biopsy of the prostate is usually then recommended.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test

A test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer. PSA levels may also be high in men who have an infection or inflammation of the prostate or BPH.

Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)

During this exam, the physician inserts a lubricated, gloved finger (digit) into the rectum. Because of the prostate’s location just in front of the rectum, the physician is able to feel the edge of the prostate where the majority of cancers begin. Abnormalities such as bumps or hardness of the prostate can be detected in this way.

MRI Scan

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is a computerized picture made by magnetic fields that can show detailed, cross-sectional images of the inner body. MRI scans can create a clear picture of the prostate gland.


The prostate can be examined through a type of ultrasound called transrectal ultrasonography. In this exam, a tube is inserted into the rectum that carries the sound waves to the nearby prostate, producing a better image.

CT Scan

A CT (computed tomography) scan is a sophisticated x-ray producedure that uses a computer and rotating x-ray beams to produce images of soft tissue, bone, and blood vessels.

Prostate Biopsy

If an abnormality is found on the DRE or the PSA test, the physician will typically order a biopsy of the prostate.
A biopsy involves taking a very small sample of tissue from the prostate. This is done using a thin needle that is placed into the prostate. A tiny amount of tissue is trapped in the needle while it is in the prostate and then the needle is pulled out. This procedure is usually done by an urologist or other surgeon. The pathologist will examine the biopsy sample to check for cancer cells and determine the Gleason score. The Gleason score ranges from 2-10 and describes how likely it is that a tumor will spread. The lower the number, the less likely the tumor is to spread.
There are 2 types of biopsy procedures used to diagnose prostate cancer:
– Transrectal biopsy : The removal of tissue from the prostate by inserting a thin needle through the rectum and into the prostate.
– Transperineal biopsy: The removal of tissue from the prostate by inserting a thin needle through the skin between the scrotum and rectum and into the prostate.

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