Find out about this procedure that's used to diagnose prostate cancer. Learn about the risks, how to prepare and what you can expect.
A prostate biopsy is a procedure to remove samples of suspicious tissue from the prostate. The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland in males that produces fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
During a prostate biopsy a needle is used to collect a number of tissue samples from your prostate gland. The procedure is performed by a doctor who specializes in the urinary system and male sex organs (urologist).
Your urologist may recommend a prostate biopsy if results from initial tests, such as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or digital rectal exam, suggest that you may have prostate cancer. Tissue samples from the prostate biopsy are examined under a microscope for cell abnormalities that are a sign of prostate cancer. If cancer is present, it is evaluated to determine how quickly it's likely to progress and to determine your best treatment options.
The prostate gland is located just below the bladder in men and surrounds the top portion of the tube that drains urine from the bladder (urethra). The prostate's primary function is to produce the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm (seminal fluid).
A prostate biopsy is used to detect prostate cancer.
Your doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy if:
Risks associated with a prostate biopsy include:
To prepare for your prostate biopsy, your urologist may have you:
Prostate biopsy samples can be collected in different ways. Your prostate biopsy may involve:
You will be asked to lie on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest. You might be asked to lie on your stomach. After cleaning the area and applying gel, your doctor will gently insert a thin ultrasound probe into your rectum.
Transrectal ultrasonography uses sound waves to create images of your prostate. Your doctor will use the images to identify the area that needs to be numbed with an injection to reduce discomfort associated with the biopsy. The ultrasound images are also used to guide the prostate biopsy needle into place.
Once the area is numbed and the biopsy device is situated, your doctor will retrieve thin, cylindrical sections of tissue with a spring-propelled needle. The procedure typically causes a very brief uncomfortable sensation each time the spring-loaded needle takes a sample.
Your doctor may target a suspicious area to biopsy or may take samples from several places in your prostate. Generally, 10 to 12 tissue samples are taken. The entire procedure usually takes about 20 minutes.
Your doctor will likely recommend that you do only light activities for 24 to 48 hours after your prostate biopsy.
Your doctor might recommend taking an antibiotic for a few days. You might also:
Call your doctor if you have:
A doctor who specializes in diagnosing cancer and other tissue abnormalities (pathologist) will evaluate the prostate biopsy samples. The pathologist can tell if the tissue removed is cancerous and, if cancer is present, estimate how aggressive it is. Your doctor will explain the pathologist's findings to you.
Your pathology report may include: