Detection & Diagnosis
Detecting Prostate Cancer
There are several tests which can be used to screen for prostate cancer. For more information about these, read about the screening recommendations from the American Cancer Society. The most common tests are the PSA test and the digital rectal exam.
While these tests can be used for detection, they are not sufficient to diagnose prostate cancer. However positive results do indicate that further diagnostic testing may be needed.
The most common procedure used to diagnose prostate cancer is the biopsy. The biopsy is done to collect small samples of tissue for analysis by a pathologist. To obtain the sample, a needle is inserted into the prostate. Today, most physicians use a biopsy gun, which inserts and removes the needles in a fraction of a second.
This procedure only takes 15 minutes, and can be done in your doctor’s office. A biopsy is only undertaken when a doctor has evaluated the patient’s symptoms and early test results and may suspect cancer.
When a pathologist examines the biopsy samples under the microscope, a prostate cancer has distinct characteristics that differentiate it from normal tissue. Often, a tumor will disrupt the regular tissue formation. If the pathologist determines that there is a cancer, he or she will assign a stage to the disease to help determine treatment options and prognosis.