A doctor will usually do a PSA blood test and may do a physical examination and/or organise a MRI scan to check the health of the prostate. If these tests indicate a possibility of prostate cancer, you may need a biopsy.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test
PSA is a protein that is produced by the prostate gland. Higher than normal PSA levels can indicate prostate cancer. However, a high PSA test result does not necessarily mean cancer because other prostate conditions can also raise PSA levels.
Digital rectal examination (DRE)
A doctor can feel the size and shape of the prostate gland by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the patient’s rectum. Sometimes a prostate cancer can be felt this way, but a normal DRE result does not necessarily rule out prostate cancer.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
An MRI is a scan to assess the size of the prostate and look for any abnormal areas. It is performed as an outpatient procedure (you do not need to be admitted to a hospital). You will lie on a special bed that passes through a narrow tunnel while the scans are being taken. If you have issues with claustrophobia, you may require sedation for this scan. If you have any metallic implants (e.g. screws or plates) in your body or medical devices (e.g. pacemaker, cochlear implant), or if you have had joint surgery, it is important that you tell your doctor.
A biopsy is a procedure where a needle is used to remove multiple small samples of tissue from the prostate gland. The samples are sent to a laboratory to be examined. This shows whether the cells in the prostate are malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).
A biopsy is the only way a definitive diagnosis of prostate cancer can be made.