Contents of This Section
- For newly diagnosed patients …
- Prostate cancer screening and early detection (and video presentation)
- Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer
- Digital rectal examination or DRE (and video presentation)
- Prostate specific antigen testing
- Diagnosis: an introduction
- Prostate biopsy: how it’s done and what’s involved (and two video presentations)
- The biopsy results: how to read them and what they mean
- What on Earth is PIN?
- That’s not what ASAP stands for! Is it?
- Other important tests
- The spouse or partner’s roles and perspective
To properly nail a diagnosis of prostate cancer requires a prostate biopsy.
The problem physicians and patients have been struggling with for years is who should get a biopsy?
Almost every man who lives into his 90s has a very high probability that at least a small focus of cancer will be found in his prostate. But it is equally true that for large numbers of older men, such “latent” (effectively clinically inactive or “indolent”) prostate cancer may have no clinical significance. To date we still have no good answer to the conundrum so elegantly phrased many years ago by Willet F. Whitmore, Jr., MD, when he asked:
Is a cure possible in those for whom it is necessary, and is it necessary for those in whom it is possible?
It is a sad commentary on the unkindness of this disease that Dr. Whitmore himself, who may have been the greatest urologic cancer surgeon of his generation, went on to die of prostate cancer at the age of 78.
In this section we will do everything we can to try and give you a full appreciation of the critical nature of the question, “Who should get a biopsy?” You may also want to look carefully in information about risks for prostate cancer. Your individual risk will impact the appropriateness of a biopsy, depending on the signals that you may be at risk.