A prostate cancer diagnosis is commonly confirmed by a prostate biopsy (also called a core needle biopsy), which is a
procedure that is usually done in the doctor’s office. It is often
performed by a urologist, a surgeon who treats prostate cancer.
Expect to have about 12 core samples taken from different areas of the prostate gland. A doctor may take more core samples to confirm a diagnosis. This helps ensure that if cancer is present, the doctor will find it.
Your loved one’s doctor will tell him how he needs to prepare prior to his biopsy, such as:
A prostate biopsy is guided by transrectal ultrasound or (TRUS). This special machine helps the doctor know where to
insert the needle to get the desired tissue samples.
Here's what happens:
Another approach is to do a needle biopsy through a small incision in the skin between the rectum and the scrotum (called the skin of the perineum).
A prostate biopsy usually only takes about 10 minutes, but you will probably have to sit in the waiting room much longer than that.
A man will probably feel:
The doctor may use an anesthetic to numb the area (you can ask about this ahead of time). As soon as the anesthetic wears off, your loved one may feel some discomfort during the ride home and soreness for a few days.
It is not uncommon to notice blood in the urine, or bleeding during bowel movements for a few days (particularly if a man has hemorrhoids). There may also be some blood in the semen for up to several weeks. If the bleeding continues, or your loved one is concerned about the amount of blood, definitely contact his doctor.
You should call the doctor immediately if you notice any signs of:
It may take several days to get the results so try to put it out of your mind as best you can. A prostate cancer diagnosis is confirmed if cancer is present in any of the core samples. The pathologist's report will tell you:
Unfortunately a prostate biopsy is not a foolproof method for prostate cancer diagnosis. Some areas with cancer may be missed if a needle does not pass through them. If cancer is still suspected, the biopsy may be repeated to get a prostate cancer diagnosis.
Always consult a medical professional.
The American Cancer Society. Prostate Cancer. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 17, 2015.
American Urological Association. The Management of Localized Prostate Cancer. http://www.auanet.org. Accessed September 1, 2008.
Bostwick DG, Crawford DE, Higano CS, Roach M, eds. American Cancer Society’s Complete Guide to Prostate Cancer. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society Health Promotions; 2005