Prostate Cancer Diagnosis & Evaluation

Prostate Cancer Screening

The initial screening process for prostate cancer involves either a digital rectal exam (DRE) or a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. In a DRE, the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the prostate. If they feel any sort of abnormalities in the gland, then further testing will probably be scheduled. A PSA test is a simple blood test that measures for prostate-specific antigen, a substance produced by the prostate. If there is a high level of PSA in the blood, this is a sign that something may be wrong with the prostate.

Depending on your risk factors for prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend a prostate exam after you turn 50. If a DRE or PSA test yields unusual results, one of the tests below may be prescribed.

Prostate Cancer Diagnostic Exams

  • Prostate Biopsy
    A thin needle is inserted into the prostate to extract a sample of cells. These cells are examined under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.

  • Transrectal Ultrasound (TRUS)
    Sound waves are used to create an image of the inner prostate, allowing a radiologist to look for abnormalities or growths on the prostate gland.

  • CT Scan
    A quick, noninvasive test that creates detailed images of the inner prostate using advanced X-rays.

  • MRI
    MRIs produce similar images to a CT scan, but they do not use X-rays and are radiation-free. This exam is noninvasive and typically takes roughly an hour. It does require you to be in a loud, confined space for most of the time, which can be difficult for claustrophobic patients. Sedatives can be provided for patients who have a difficult time staying calm.

  • Radionuclide Bone Scan
    This imaging test can determine whether or not cancer has spread from the prostate gland to the bones. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the body. The material reveals areas of diseased bone by causing them to light up during the imaging test.

  • Lymph Node Biopsy
    A thin needle is inserted into the lymph nodes near the prostate to extract cell samples, which are then examined under the microscope for signs of cancer.