Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
While prostate cancer remains a silent killer around the globe, the good news is that the rates of successful diagnosis and treatment have increased. Many patients who have urinary or sexual functioning problems–or even bone pain, which is a symptom of the spread of the cancer beyond the reproductive organs–have been able to get timely and effective medical help. Diagnostic procedures include a review of symptoms by doctors, digital rectal examination, prompt screening tests and the use of more precise diagnostic lab tests. Since prostate cancer does not usually present noticeable symptoms during the early stages, doctors rely on the digital rectal examination and the prostate-specific antigen test as preliminary steps to confirming the diagnosis with a prostate biopsy.
PSA Blood Test
The Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test has immense value in the early detection of prostate cancer in men who are non-symptomatic or showing only some symptoms of the condition. The test is also combined with a tumor grade and physical exam to assist in deciding whether further tests such as bone scans and CT scans are necessary. A high PSA level indicates that the cancer has probably spread to other areas of the body including bones, lymph nodes and other organs. Extensive spread calls for a careful selection of prostate cancer treatment approach and method.
Trans-rectal Ultrasound (TRUS)
Trans-rectal ultrasound for prostate cancer diagnosis applies sound waves to create a video screen image of the prostate. The lubricated probe is inserted into the rectum in a painless procedure that takes about 10 minutes. According to Dr. Michael Chancellor of the Advanced Prostate Cancer Institute in central Florida, TRUS should be used in cases where patients have high PSA levels, abnormal DREs, or when needles should be guided into specific areas of the prostate during the biopsy. TRUS is also valuable in making certain prostate cancer treatment choices such as brachy-therapy or cryosurgery.
A prostate biopsy is the removal of a tissue sample from the prostate followed by its examination under a microscope. By applying anesthesia, urologists ensure that the procedure does not cause pain. Once the biopsy samples are sent to the lab, they are examined for the presence of cancer cells. The pathologist will assign a grade to the disease picture if cancer cells are present. Biopsy is the most reliable method of diagnosing prostate cancer.
Tests to Determine the Spread of Cancer
If the doctor finds an abnormal DRE, a high PSA, and a high Gleason score during grading, further tests will be performed to identify the extent of spread. The tests include bone scan, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ProstaScint scan, lymph node biopsy, fine needle aspiration, surgical biopsy, and laparoscopic biopsy.
For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, visit Advanced Prostate Cancer Institute in Oxford, Florida.