Prostate Cancer: Diagnosis


Numbers or letters after T, N, and M provide more details about each of these factors. A staging system is a standard way for the cancer care team to describe how far a cancer has spread. The most widely used staging system for prostate cancer is the AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer) TNM system, which was most recently updated in 2018. Researchers are studying whether cryotherapy or HIFU to treat one part of the prostate might be an option for cancer that’s confined to the prostate. Referred to as “focal therapy,” this strategy identifies the area of the prostate that contains the most aggressive cancer cells and treats that area only. Studies have found that focal therapy reduces the risk of side effects.

If the diagnosis is cancer, these results also help the doctor describe the cancer. A doctor inserts a probe into the rectum that takes a picture of the prostate using sound waves that bounce off the prostate. A pathologist then analyzes the sample(s) under a microscope.

A core needle biopsy is the main method used to diagnose prostate cancer. The actual diagnosis of prostate cancer can only be made with a prostate biopsy (discussed below). The stage of a prostate cancer describes how much cancer is in the body. It’s one article source of the factors used to help determine how best to treat the cancer. Doctors also use a cancer’s stage when talking about survival statistics. Chemotherapy may be a treatment option for treating prostate cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this condition. Antibiotics are typically prescribed prior to a prostate learn more here biopsy in order to reduce the risk of an infectious complication. The doctor actively monitors your symptoms alone to decide if treatment is needed when simply observing the disease.

It has spread to other parts of the body, such as distant lymph nodes, bones, or other organs [M1]. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes [N0] or elsewhere in the body [M0]. Prostate cancer is diagnosed with a prostate biopsy, source which removes tissue from the prostate to examine it for cancer cells. This removal is guided by transrectal ultrasound, which uses a rectal probe to deliver ultrasound waves to the prostate and surrounding tissues.

Your urologist will use your symptoms and the results of your screening tests to determine if diagnostic testing is needed. He or she may recommend a biopsy of the gland to confirm your diagnosis. Additionally, your urologist may suggest bone scans, computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to find out if the cancer has spread. If metastasis or recurrence are suspected, a PET scan using gallium-68 or fluorine-18 may be recommended.


There are many other factors involved when predicting the spread and course of the disease, with experts varying in how they use the scoring system. When you undergo a DRE, the doctor places their lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel any bumps, rigid, or enlarged areas of the prostate. One of the best ways to detect cancer before any symptoms appear is to undergo a screening test.

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