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Prostate cancer diagnosis

The following tests will not, by themselves, be a conclusive indicator of prostate cancer. Your doctor is likely to use more than one test to determine whether or not you are affected by prostate cancer.

ICR scientists are carrying out research to find a more efficient, comprehensive test, as an early diagnosis is so important to successful treatment.

Rectal examination
Your doctor can actually feel the prostate gland. However, an abnormal prostate on rectal examination does not necessarily indicate prostate cancer.

PSA blood test
This tests the level of ‘Prostate Specific Antigen’ in the blood. A high reading suggests prostate cancer but could be caused by other conditions. See ‘What is PSA?’ for further information.

Biopsy
About eight to 10 tiny samples of tissue from the prostate are taken using a probe sound wave scan which is inserted into the back passage, and the tissue is then analysed under the microscope.

Bone scan
This can be undertaken to determine whether there is any cancer that has spread to the bones. It involves an injection of a tracer substance and a scan outside the body to look at the uptake of the tracer into the bones.

The Institute of Cancer Research FRSB
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