Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and the Importance of Early Detection

Most prostate cancers are found through screening. Screening benefits patients because it can be used to diagnose early-stage prostate cancers, which is usually asymptomatic. Diagnosing prostate cancer in its early stages may make it easier to treat. In some cases, only active monitoring may be necessary.

During a screening, a specialist:

  • Performs a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Blood is analyzed for PSA, a natural substance produced by the prostate gland that is an indicator of prostate health.
  • Performs a digital rectal exam (DRE). A gloved and lubricated finger is gently inserted into the rectum, examining the prostate gland for abnormalities in texture, shape, and size.

High PSA levels or prostate gland abnormalities are not enough to make a formal prostate cancer diagnosis, but they can give your specialist important information about your prostate health. They can also suggest that more tests, such as imaging tests, need to be done. Speak to your physician about what prostate cancer screening is right for you.

Prostate Cancer Biopsy

A biopsy is often used to make a prostate cancer diagnosis. This involves removing a small piece of tissue and examining it under a microscope. A core needle biopsy is the most common way to look for prostate cancer. The procedure usually takes about 10 minutes.

Prostate Cancer Stages

The results of diagnostic tests, including the PSA test, and the grade group are used to assign prostate cancer stages I through IV.

The stage indicates the size and extent of cancer. Lower prostate cancer stages indicate cancer is confined to the prostate. Higher prostate cancer stages indicate cancer has spread to nearby tissue or other areas of the body.

Prostate cancer life expectancy is calculated in 5-year survival rates, which is the percentage of people who will be alive 5 years after diagnosis. For prostate cancer life expectancy, cancer is staged as:

  • Localized cancer. There is no sign that cancer has spread outside the prostate.
  • Regional cancer. Cancer has spread to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
  • Distant cancer. Cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the bones, lungs, or liver.

The 5-year survival rate for localized and regional prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent.

The 5-year survival rate for distant prostate cancer is 30 percent.

Other Prostate Cancer Results

In some cases, a biopsy may not find any cancer when it is present. This is called a false negative. It may happen if the biopsy missed areas with cancer. Your specialist may recommend another biopsy if they suspect the test results may be wrong.

A biopsy may also include other results. For example, a pathologist may report cells that are abnormal but not cancerous. If this happens, your specialist may monitor your prostate health more closely and order regular prostate cancer screenings or recommend a second biopsy.

To contact one of New Jersey’s best prostate cancer specialists call
844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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