Diagnosing prostate cancer


test to diagnose

“I was very upset at first. I prepared myself for the worst and got it. I was confused but as I settled down I decided to take a positive view and that helped.”



Tests to diagnose prostate cancer 


A blood test for PSA

PSA is a protein made by both normal and cancerous prostate cells. The PSA blood test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA levels may rise for many reasons, such as BPH, inflammation or infection of the prostate gland, and prostate cancer.

 A raised PSA can show that your risk of having prostate cancer is higher than it would be for a person with a normal PSA. In many men a small rise in PSA level may be normal.

 A PSA test alone cannot be used to diagnose prostate cancer. Some men can have prostate cancer with normal PSA levels, while others with high PSA levels may not have prostate cancer. Other tests will be needed to confirm a diagnosis. PSA levels can vary so more than one PSA test may be needed.

 “I felt upset when I was first diagnosed and concerned about what happened next. It came as a shock as no real signs were evident – not even a high PSA.”



Digital rectal examination

Your GP may check your prostate gland by putting a gloved finger into your anus to feel your prostate through the wall of your rectum. If they have any concerns, further tests may be needed.


Biopsy and ultrasound examination

A biopsy is the most common way to confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

 If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the information from your biopsy will also help you and your cancer treatment team to make decisions about the treatment and management of your prostate cancer.

 A biopsy removes small samples of tissue from different parts of the prostate. You will be given either a general or a local anaesthetic, depending on the procedure, to help manage any discomfort.

 Ultrasound is used to guide a needle into the prostate, through either the rectum or the perineum. After a biopsy of your prostate, many men may have blood in their urine for a few days. Some men also notice blood in their semen.

 Antibiotics are given before and after the biopsy to prevent infection, and pain relief may be prescribed to relieve any discomfort.

 Tissue samples will be looked at under a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells present.


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