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Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer - Diagnosis

Several different tests can be used to diagnose prostate cancer, including:

  • Digital rectal examination
    • Often part of a routine physical examination, the doctor inserts a lubricated gloved finger into the rectum and gently feels for abnormal growths. This may be uncomfortable but should not be painful.
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test
    • A blood test that measures PSA levels in the blood may indicate prostate cancer. The PSA is a substance produced by the prostate and a small amount of it is normal. Men with prostate cancer tend to have higher levels of PSA in their blood. As elevated PSA levels may be caused by other non-cancerous conditions, additional tests are needed to confirm the presence of prostate cancer.
  • Transrectal Ultrasound scan (TRUS)
    • This test uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the prostate. It is done by inserting a small probe into the rectum. TRUS is often conducted if a man has an abnormal digital rectum exam or a high level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). It is also commonly used during a prostate biopsy, to allow the doctor to see where to take small samples of tissue from.
  • Biopsy
    • A prostate biopsy involves taking small samples of prostate tissue for further examination in the lab to determine the presence of prostate cancer cells. Prostate biopsy samples can be collected in different ways, by inserting a thin needle either through the rectum (transrectal biopsy) or through the area between the anus and scrotum (transperineal biopsy).
  • Computer Tomography (CT) scan
    • A CT scan takes X-ray images from different angles to build up a 3D picture of the inside of the body. This can identify the area of the prostate cancer and any spread to nearby structures or body parts.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan
    • An MRI scan uses magnetic fields to give detailed pictures of the pelvic area. It can help to detect prostate cancer and look for any spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Bone scan
    • A bone scan can detect if cancer has spread from the prostate to the bones. A small amount of radioactive material called a tracer is injected and a scan is done to see how the tracer is absorbed, to indicate the presence of prostate cancer.
  • Positron Emission Tomography - Computed Tomography (PET-CT) scan
    • A PET-CT scan combines both a CT scan and a PET scan to provide a more comprehensive view of the cancer and the extent of its spread. A CT scan uses X-rays to take images to check for any areas with abnormalities. With the PET scan, a radioactive glucose solution is injected and absorbed by cells in the body that are growing quickly, indicating the presence of prostate cancer, which can be seen with a special camera. The PET scan helps to show if areas with abnormalities seen on the CT scan are suspicious for cancerous growth.