Your doctor can test for prostate cancer with a rectal (back passage) examination and a blood test. In a rectal examination, the doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland to check for anything unusual. The blood test checks your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. The higher your PSA level, the higher the likelihood is of you having prostate cancer. However, a high PSA level may also be a symptom of a different problem.
Following your initial check-up, your doctor may refer you to a hospital for further tests. You may not need to undergo all of the following examinations.
Trans-rectal ultrasound scan and biopsy
A thumb-sized ultrasound probe called a ‘transrectal ultrasound’ is passed into the rectum. Using the resulting image, a small needle is guided by the probe and takes samples of prostate tissue which are then checked for signs of cancer.
Your chest and pelvic area may be X-rayed to check if any cancer cells have spread to other parts of your body.
Isotope bone scan
A bone scan is highly sensitive and allows cancer cells to be detected earlier than with X-rays. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein. This material is attracted to areas of bone where cancer cells are present.
A CT scan takes a number of detailed pictures of an area on the inside of your body. The scan may show if cancer has spread beyond the prostate to other parts of the body.
MRIs use a magnetic field rather than X-rays to produce images of a cross-section of the inside of your body. Sometimes, a special dye is injected as part of the process to ensure the resulting image is clear.
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