What is a prostate biopsy?

A prostate biopsy is a diagnostic procedure that is used to diagnose prostate cancer. During a prostate biopsy, your doctor will remove a small sample of abnormal tissue from the prostate and send to a laboratory for testing.

Prostate biopsies are typically performed by a urologist.

When is a prostate biopsy recommended?

You doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy if he or she suspects you may have prostate cancer after reviewing results from your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) or digital rectal exam.

Risks of a prostate biopsy

Although a prostate biopsy is generally safe, side effects should be monitored. Side effects of a prostate biopsy may include:

  • Rectal bleeding at the site of the biopsy
  • Blood may be found in the semen for a couple weeks after the procedure
  • Having a hard time urinating 
  • Infection in the urinary tract or prostate

What to expect during a prostate biopsy?

A prostate biopsy is a short, easy procedure. During the prostate biopsy, your doctor will insert a needle either through the rectum wall or through the perineal tissue (skin between the anus and scrotum) into the prostate. Once in position, he or she will take samples from various locations within the prostate.

Your samples will be sent to a laboratory to be examined by a pathologist under a microscope.

Results of a prostate biopsy

The results of your prostate biopsy should be ready in three days. If your pathologists finds evidence of cancer, he or she will assign you a Gleason score that indicates how likely your cancer is to grow or spread. The higher the score, the greater chance it is an aggressive case.

Recovery from a prostate biopsy

You will go home after a prostate biopsy. You should take it easy for a few days to allow the affected area to heal. Most patients need to take an antibiotic to prevent infection at the insertion site.

If you develop a fever, have trouble urinating, experience severe bleeding or have increased pain, call your doctor right away.

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