Urology Center of Englewood

Prostate Biopsy

Overview

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It is located just below the bladder and surrounds part of the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder). The prostate produces some of the fluid that makes up semen.

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer (other than skin cancer) in US men. Each year, roughly 240,000 men are diagnosed with the condition.

When prostate cancer is suspected, men often undergo a prostate biopsy. This is a procedure to remove small samples of tissue from the prostate. The tissue samples are reviewed by a pathologist in order to determine whether cancer is present.

Prostate cancer may be suspected because of an abnormal digital rectal exam or because of high or increasing levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood.  PSA is a protein produced by the prostate. PSA levels tend to be elevated when prostate cancer is present, but levels can also be elevated in benign (non-cancerous) conditions affecting the prostate.

How is a Prostate Biopsy Performed?

A prostate biopsy is often done on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia. The most common type of prostate biopsy is a transrectal ultrasound guided biopsy. An ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum and provides an image of the prostate. The image guides the administration of local anesthesia around the prostate, and also guides the biopsy.

During the biopsy, a hollow needle is inserted into the prostate through the wall of the rectum. Tissue samples are usually collected from several different locations in the prostate in order to reduce the likelihood of missing a cancer.

Prostate biopsies can also be performed through the urethra (transurethral biopsy) or through the perineum (transperineal biopsy).

What Can I Expect After a Prostate Biopsy?

After a prostate biopsy, you may experience some rectal bleeding or blood in your urine or semen. You may also notice some soreness in the area of the biopsy. These problems are temporary. If they persist, or if you notice heavy bleeding or increasing pain, call your doctor. You should also call you doctor if you have signs of an infection, such as a fever.

If the biopsy detects cancer, you may undergo additional tests to determine the extent of the cancer. Your doctor will then discuss the options available to manage the cancer.

If the biopsy does not detect cancer, your doctor will develop a follow-up plan based on your individual situation. This may include a repeat biopsy.