An abnormal PSA test or DRE exam indicates the need for further testing, including a biopsy or MRI, to determine if the abnormal readings indicate prostate cancer. Before recommending a biopsy, your doctor will probably do other tests to rule out BPH (enlarged prostate) and prostatitis as the source of a rising PSA level.
A biopsy is an analysis of prostate tissue samples taken from the patient. If your PSA level is above a certain level, or your DRE reveals a potential tumor, your doctor may recommend a biopsy. Most men who undergo biopsies and further testing after a PSA test do not have prostate cancer.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Prostate MR is the imaging of prostate gland using magnetic resonance (MR) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. The MR scanner, a large magnet, is used to create images of various tissues in the body that a radiologist can use to diagnose abnormalities.
- Gleason Grading and Scores
If your biopsy results are positive, you will undergo other tests to determine the grade: how aggressive the cancer is, and the stage: how far it may have spread. An accurate and thorough diagnosis is key to making the best decision about treatment.
"Staging" the Disease
"Staging" is a measure of how far your cancer has spread. There are several stages of prostate cancer. Cancer stage can have a major impact on what treatment options are available and which options are most effective.
Doctors will help you develop your prognosis and discuss the potential outcomes of the treatment options available to you.
Your prognosis should take into account your PSA level, grade and stage of prostate cancer, as well as your age, race, health, and personal and family medical history.
It helps to understand some common prognosis terms used to talk about prognosis, so you can be fully prepared to discuss your options with your doctor. Other prognostic tools predict other odds, such as the likelihood of relapse for patients who have undergone surgery or different kinds of radiation. Some can be used to predict how the odds might change if hormone therapy is added to your course of treatment. Others predict the risk of spread to lymph nodes. Your doctor will probably use a number of these tools, depending on your situation.
Advances in Diagnostic Tools
Diagnostic tools are advancing in a way to allow patients to assess individual risk of prostate cancer by utilizing initial biopsy samples to analyze the tissue with state-of-the-art computer-imaging technology. The technology, matched with advanced mathematics, molecular biomarker analysis and your clinical information, enables pathologists to assign each patient an individual risk score. Patients with their physicians can then use the information gathered from the test to make a more informed decision.