Several tests are used to diagnose prostate cancer. Learn more about these tests, how they work and what to expect.
Two initial tests are commonly used to look for prostate cancer – a digital rectal exam and the blood test used to detect prostate-specific antigen (PSA). But the diagnosis can only be confirmed by a biopsy.
Doctors use the digital rectal exam (DRE) as a relatively simple test to check the prostate.
PSA is a substance produced by the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer, a noncancerous condition such as prostatitis, or an enlarged prostate.
Prostate ultrasound involves a small probe that is inserted a short distance into the rectum. This probe produces high-frequency sound waves that bounce off the surface of the prostate and are used to create video or photographic images of the gland.
Cystoscopy, also called a cystourethroscopy or bladder scope, is a test to measure the health of the urethra and bladder.
A CAT scan uses X-rays and computers to produce an image of a cross-section of the body. This image allows your doctor to check for swollen or enlarged lymph nodes, which might mean that cancer has spread.
An MRI is a test that produces very clear pictures of the human body without the use of X-rays. Instead, MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce these images.
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