How Do Doctors Test for Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that affects men. That's why doctors typically recommend that men begin screening for prostate cancer once they reach a certain age. Prostate cancer screening does not have to be invasive. The following are four prostate cancer tests that can be used to help your doctor diagnose prostate cancer:

1. Prostate-Specific Antigen Test

Blood tests are commonly preferred as a first line of screening for prostate cancer because they are relatively non-invasive. One such blood test is the prostate-specific antigen test. PSA tests are commonly used to screen men for prostate cancer. These tests look for an antigen created by the prostate. Men with abnormally high levels of this antigen may have prostate cancer. It's possible to have elevated PSA for a number of reasons, including medication that you're taking for other health concerns. Your doctor will read the results of your PSA test and discuss them with you. If you have elevated PSA levels, your doctor may recommend further testing or a biopsy.

2. Prostate Health Index

There is more than one type of blood test that can be used to screen for the presence of prostate cancer in your body. Prostate health index tests are more specific than PSA tests, which is why they are often used as a follow-up to the PSA test. If you have a high prostate health index following this blood test, it is more likely that a prostate biopsy will reveal the presence of cancer. 

3. Urinalysis 

Urine tests can also help doctors diagnose prostate cancer. Instead of diagnosing the presence of cancer itself, urinalysis can be used to determine whether or not you have a specific gene that is likely to cause prostate cancer in men. For this reason, urine tests are not typically used to diagnose prostate cancer on their own. Rather, a urine test can provide more clarity following a PSA or PHI test.

4. Prostate Biopsy

Biopsies are typically used as a final test to confirm or refute a suspected prostate cancer diagnosis. If one or more blood or urine tests have indicated that you are at risk for prostate cancer, your doctor may order a prostate biopsy. During a biopsy, a sample of tissue will be taken from your prostate. Biopsies are typically taken using a needle, which means the amount of tissue removed will be very small. The sampled tissue will be examined for cancerous cells in a laboratory.