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How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?

Prostate cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer among American males. An estimated 180,000 American men, in fact, will be diagnosed with it in the coming year. A concern for all males as they age, this particular form of cancer can often be successfully treated if it is caught in its earliest stages.

Prostate cancer can be diagnosed in several ways. Quite often, early screening tests produce the first signs that something might be wrong and that further diagnostics are required. These tests include:

  • A digital rectal exam – During this procedure, a doctor manually examines the prostate. If enlargement or other concerns are noted, other testing may be advised.

  • Prostate-specific antigen test – The PSA isn’t as widely used as it once was. Even so, this simple blood draw can be very valuable in helping diagnose prostate cancer. If PSA levels are especially high, this test can send up a red flag that other diagnostic procedures are required.

Should either of these two tests or symptoms of prostate cancer indicate the need for further diagnosis, men will find these procedures are often used to confirm or rule out prostate cancer:

  • Ultrasound – If red flags about prostate cancer have been raised, doctors will generally order this test next. An ultrasound will enable clinicians to gauge the health of the prostate gland.

  • Biopsy – This is the most definitive test. Due to its invasive nature, however, it is generally reserved for use after other procedures have been performed. The biopsy involves the use of a thin needle to collect prostate tissue samples. These samples are then analyzed in a lab to make a final determination on the cellular level.

Prostate cancer diagnosis in its earliest phases can open the door on life-saving treatments. This form of cancer, in fact, has a very high survival rate due to the many effective treatments available. Early detection, however, is key. Men are urged to speak to their doctors about their personal prostate cancer risks and recommended screening.