Diagnosis Testing

If the digital rectal exam or PSA test results are unusual, your doctor may repeat the tests or request an ultrasound and other procedures. These evaluation tools may include:

Prostate Biopsy

A test in which the doctor inserts thin, hollow needles into the prostate to get samples for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present. The diagnosis of cancer is confirmed only by a biopsy.

Lymph Node Biopsy

A procedure in which tissue samples are removed, with a needle or during surgery, from the lymph nodes near the prostate. The samples are then examined under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

Transrectal Ultrasound (TRUS)

A test using sound wave echoes to create an image of the prostate gland. This allows for a visual scan for abnormal conditions, such as gland enlargement, nodules, penetration of a tumor through the outer capsule of the gland, and/or invasion of seminal vesicles. TRUS may also be used for guidance of needle biopsies of the prostate gland and/or guiding the nitrogen probes in cryosurgery.

Computed Tomography Scan (CT/CAT Scan)

A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. More detailed than an X-ray, a CT scan can show detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field rather than x-rays to produce images. MRI images show the subtle differences in the tissues of the body, even the different types of tissue within the same organ.

Radionuclide Bone Scan

A nuclear imaging method that can reveal whether the cancer has spread from the prostate gland to the bones. The procedure involves an injection of radioactive material that helps locate diseased bone cells throughout the entire body, suggesting possible metastatic cancer.