Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
There are several ways your WellStar physician will diagnose prostate cancer, depending on size and stage, including:
- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test — A sample of blood is analyzed for PSA, a substance produced in the prostate gland that helps liquefy semen. A small amount of PSA always circulates in the blood. High PSA levels, or levels that rise over time, could indicate prostate inflammation, enlargement, or cancer.
- Biopsy — Depending on the result of a digital rectal exam and/or PSA, the doctor may recommend a biopsy. Small tissue samples from several different areas of the prostate are removed — usually using a needle inserted through the perineum, located between the scrotum and anus. A doctor administers a local anesthetic to minimize any pain and discomfort.
- Bone Scan — Currently, this test is the most effective imaging procedure to determine the spread of cancer to bone. A low-grade radioactive solution is injected into a vein and is selectively taken up or absorbed by areas of new or rapid bone growth, possibly indicating cancer. The need for a bone scan test depends on a man's prostate cancer type and stage.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — During a specialized form of MRI, called endorectal coil MRI, part of the device is inserted into the rectum to discern details that may determine if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate.
- Lymph Node Biopsy (lymphadenectomy) During this surgical procedure, a urologist removes some of the nodes near the prostate and examines them under a microscope. The procedure typically takes place during prostate removal surgery, but not always. If other tests, such as a bone or CT scan, show the cancer has spread, this procedure usually is not needed. Lymph node biopsy is most often used to confirm test results indicating the cancer is confined to the prostate, and is part of prostate cancer staging
Prostate Cancer Stages
When prostate cancer is diagnosed, your WellStar physician will categorize it by the current stage. Each stage describes the progression of the disease and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. You should talk to your WellStar physician to understand each stage, and what it means for your treatment plan.