Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, and medical and family history. This will include a thorough digital rectal exam to detect any abnormalities. Tests can rule out or confirm a cancer diagnosis.
If you are having symptoms or your doctor detects abnormalities, you may need further testing. Tests can help confirm a cancer diagnosis or another condition, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostatitis. Tests may include:
Blood tests may identify tumor markers in the blood, such as prostatic specific antigen (PSA). PSA is elevated in the presence of cancer or other prostate disorders. Blood tests will also evaluate other types of proteins or markers that may indicate cancer.
Imaging tests may be used to look for the presence of tumors. They can also help assess their size and location. Some tests use contrast material to highlight structures so images are more clear and detailed. Imaging tests may include:
During a biopsy, suspicious tissue is removed so it can be examined under a microscope. This is the only way to confirm a diagnosis. These may include:
The physical exam, combined with blood, imaging, and biopsy test results will determine the stage of the cancer. Staging is used to identify where and how far the cancer has spread. It is also used to guide your treatment plan. Treatment and outcomes depend on several factors, such as location, tumor size, stage, and overall health.
The TNM staging system is often used to classify cancer of the prostate. The Gleason score is often combined with the TNM system to predict the likelihood of survival over the next 5 years with treatment. The higher the numbers the worse the prognosis.
American Cancer Society
website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003134-pdf.pdf. Accessed October 2, 2015.
Prostate cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 2, 2015. Accessed October 2, 2015.
Prostate cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/genitourinary-cancer/prostate-cancer. Updated November 2013. Accessed October 2, 2015.
Prostate cancer staging and imaging. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 6, 2014. Accessed October 2, 2015.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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