How Prostate Cancer is Diagnosed

older3 sml If you don’t have any symptoms of prostate cancer, signs of cancer are often found during a regularly scheduled checkup with a DRE (digital rectal exam) and a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test.

A DRE is a test where the doctor puts a gloved finger in the rectum to feel the prostate. A PSA test is a blood test that can find a prostate related problem. An abnormal PSA test may mean that you need more testing.

More testing may include:

  • Genomic Testing – The activity of sets of related genes is measured in a tumor biopsy or blood sample. Genomic tools can provide information that helps men and their doctors better understand their individual prostate cancer; this information can help answer questions such as how aggressive the tumor may be.
  • Genetic Testing – The presence of a particular gene or genes is assessed using a blood or other tissue sample.  Some genes are associated with an increased risk of cancer or other diseases; screening for these genes provides information that helps men and their doctors estimate their personal risk of these cancers/diseases.
  • Urinalysis – A urine sample is analyzed. It is often used to rule out BPH or prostatitis.
  • Imaging – An ultrasound uses sound waves to produce an image of the prostate. MRI and CT scans use computers to produce images. Also, bone scanning can look for prostate cancer that might have spread to the bones.
  • Biopsy – Small pieces of prostate tissue are taken using a transrectal biopsy and examined under a microscope.
  • Lymph node biopsy – Small samples of tissue from the lymph nodes are examined to determine whether the prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Transrectal ultrasound – This test uses sound wave echoes to create an image, a sonogram, of the prostate gland to see whether there are abnormal tissues.

There are various stages of prostate cancer. The stages are I, II, III, and IV. Stage I is early-stage cancer and Stage IV is advanced (also known as metastatic prostate cancer). During metastatic prostate cancer, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones and soft tissue.

To learn about advanced prostate cancer and treatment options, click here.

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