Prostate Biopsy

If you've been having problems with your prostate gland, your health care provider may recommend a prostate biopsy.

A biopsy is when a tiny sample of tissue is taken from an area of your body and looked at in a lab.

The prostate is a small gland that's part of the male reproductive system. It sits just below the bladder, which stores urine, and in front of the rectum. The gland surrounds part of your urethra.

During ejaculation, the prostate squeezes fluid into your urethra, the tube that sends urine from the bladder out of the body. The fluid protects the sperm, and is part of the liquid that makes up semen.

In young men, the prostate is about the size of a walnut. But it grows as you get older. This can lead to benign prostatic hyperplasia, or B-P-H. B-P-H is a common problem in older men that can make urinating difficult or too frequent, and cause leakage of urine.

You may need your prostate tested if you have symptoms of B-P-H, or if your prostate-specific antigen, or P-S-A, was high on a blood test.

You may also need a prostate biopsy if your health care provider found that your prostate was larger than normal during a rectal exam, or if you have symptoms of prostate cancer. These symptoms include:

  • Trouble having erections
  • Bloody urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Urine leakage
  • Weakness or numbness in your legs, and
  • Pain in your spine or other bones

Before the Procedure

Tell your health care provider about all of the medications and supplements you take and if you have any allergies. Ask your doctor if there are any medications you should stop taking before your procedure. You may be given antibiotics to take before and after the biopsy to help reduce your risk for infection.

Your provider will explain what happens during the procedure. He or she will also talk with you about any risks or complications that may happen.

You'll be asked to sign a consent form that gives your health care provider permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask questions if anything is not clear.

What to Expect

Before doing a biopsy, your health care provider will look at your prostate with an ultrasound probe. Ultrasound uses sound waves and a computer to create pictures of your prostate.

During your ultrasound, your health care provider will place a probe about the width of a finger into your rectum. The probe is used to find a number of areas on the prostate to take tissue samples from.

Before your provider takes the tissue samples, you'll be given medication to numb the area. Then, your health care provider will pass a needle either alongside the ultrasound probe or through your scrotum into the prostate.

After the Procedure

After the biopsy, the tissue samples are looked at under a microscope. If cancer cells are found, they are graded and given a Gleason score. This is a measurement of how abnormal the cancer cells look when compared with normal prostate cells. Cancer cells that are very abnormal have higher Gleason scores. These cancer cells are likely to grow more quickly.

It may take a few days for your biopsy results to come back.

Things to Remember

Prostate cancer may not give you symptoms.
A prostate biopsy can help detect prostate cancer.
If cancer is present, it will be given a Gleason score.

What We Have Learned

A prostate biopsy is done to detect benign prostatic hyperplasia, or B-P-H. True or false? The answer is false. A prostate biopsy is done to detect prostate cancer.

Before doing a biopsy, your health care provider will look at your prostate with an ultrasound probe. True or false? The answer is true. The ultrasound probe will help your provider find areas on your prostate to be tested.

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