Diagnose Prostate Cancer
The prostate gland or prostate is a part of the male reproductive system. It is a small (almost walnut-sized) gland located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum (the last part of the large bowel), surrounding the urethra (the tube carrying urine out of the bladder). The prostate has two main functions: producing and storing fluid that helps make semen and regulating bladder control.
Prostate cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate gland. It is the second most common cancer in males in the United States (the first being skin cancer). Around 13 out of 100 men get prostate cancer during their lifetime in America.
The most definite way to diagnose prostate cancer is by taking a tissue sample from the gland and examining it under a microscope. This is called a prostate biopsy. The doctors, however, do not directly conduct a biopsy without doing the simpler and less invasive clinical assessments and diagnostic tests. The diagnosis of prostate cancer is based on the following:
- Detailed medical history. This includes asking the person about their symptoms, any underlying health conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure), and whether they consume alcohol or tobacco in any form. They may also be asked whether they have a close family member (father, uncle, or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than 65 years). Other questions, such as any change in sex drive or loss of body weight, may also be asked.
- Thorough physical examination. The doctor may assess the person’s general health status by looking at any signs of diseases through their physical examination. They may also perform a digital rectal examination or DRE. During a DRE, the doctor will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into the person’s rectum and try to feel any lumps, irregularities, or hard areas on the prostate that might suggest cancer. This examination will also give clues whether cancer has involved one or both sides of the prostate and whether it has spread to nearby structures.
- Blood tests. Certain blood tests may be done to examine blood counts, inflammatory markers (substances raised in the blood in response to infection or inflammation), or any other relevant parameters. The blood test may also include measuring the levels of a type of protein called prostate-specific antigen or PSA. This protein is made by both normal and cancerous cells in the prostate. PSA levels cannot accurately diagnose whether a person has or doesn’t have prostate cancer. Thus, it is generally done for screening high-risk groups or as a preliminary test. Most people without prostate cancer have PSA blood levels lesser than 4 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). There is almost a 50 percent chance that a person has prostate cancer if their blood PSA levels are above 10 ng/mL. It is, however, seen that men with prostate cancer may have PSA lesser than 4 ng/mL. Also, higher PSA levels may be seen in noncancerous conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Suspicious PSA and DRE may prompt the doctor to conduct an MRI of the prostate. An MRI will give a better idea about the mass (if any) felt on DRE.
- Prostate biopsy. This is the only way for knowing with certainty whether a person has prostate cancer or not. It involves taking a tissue sample from the gland and examining it under a microscope. During the procedure, the doctor inserts a thin needle into the prostate under image guidance (using an MRI and/or a transrectal ultrasound or TRUS) to collect a tissue sample. The tissue is then examined in a lab to identify cancer cells. The biopsy needle may be inserted through the rectum (a transrectal biopsy) or the skin between the scrotum and anus (a transperineal biopsy).
Other tests, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, and positron emission tomography (PET) scan, may also be done to look for the presence of cancer and whether it has spread to other sites in the body.
Top How Does a Doctor Diagnose Prostate Cancer? Related Articles
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
BPH SlideshowBenign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition cause by an enlarged prostate. Get more information on how an enlarged prostate is diagnosed and available treatment for enlarged prostate glands.
How Does Prostate Cancer Kill You in the End?Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland in men. Death from prostate cancer most often happens when cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs in the body.
How Quickly Does Prostate Cancer Spread?Prostate cancer is a cancer that develops in the prostate gland in men and it is one of the most common types of cancer. In some cases, it can take up to eight years to spread from the prostate to other parts of the body (metastasis), typically the bones. In other cases, it may be more aggressive.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer.
- Risk factors include age, family history, ethnicity, and diet.
- Prostate cancer is diagnosed by a digital rectal exam, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and prostate biopsy.
- Symptoms may include
- frequent need to urinate,
- incontinence, pain,
- blood in the urine,
- fatigue, and more.
- Prognosis and treatment depend on cancer staging.
- Watchful waiting,
- cryotherapy, and
- other management strategies are available.
- Research and clinical trials strive to find new and better treatments for prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer QuizIs prostate cancer the most common cancer in men? Take this prostate cancer quiz to find out and learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this disease.
Signs of Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, PSA Test, TreatmentsWhat is prostate cancer? Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Learn the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, along with causes and treatments. Know the stages, survival rates and how to lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Staging and Survival Rates
The prognosis for prostate cancer, as with any cancer, depends on how advanced the cancer has become, according to established stage designations. The patient's PSA score at diagnosis, as well as their Gleason score (the grading system used to determine the aggressiveness of prostate cancer) determines the prognosis and final stage designation. Prostate cancer has a high survival rate in general, but your chances depend on the stage of the cancer.
What Are the 5 Warning Signs of Prostate Cancer?Prostate cancer rarely produces symptoms in the early stage; however, few signs can help in detecting prostate cancer.
What Are the Five Stages of Prostate Cancer?The Gleason grading system grades prostate cancer from 1 to 5. According to cells’ appearances under a microscope, this system grades the most common (primary) and second most common (secondary) patterns of cells in a tissue sample collected via biopsy.
What Foods Kill Prostate Cancer?Prostate cancer refers to the uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate gland. There is no particular food or recipe that can directly kill prostate cancer cells. Some foods that may be helpful in prostate cancer recovery and relapse prevention include foods containing lycopene, beans, green tea, cruciferous vegetables and fruit like cranberries, strawberries, blueberries and pomegranates.
What Happens If You Don't Treat Prostate Cancer?If prostate cancer is left untreated, it may grow and possibly spread out of the prostate gland to the local tissues or distant sites such as liver and lungs.
What Is Stage IV Prostate Cancer Life Expectancy?The survival rate in most people with advanced prostate cancer is 30 percent at the fifth year of diagnosis. This means around 70 percent of the diagnosed men are not alive in the fifth year after diagnosis.