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Diagnosing Prostate Cancer


At Dignity Health, we combine the latest diagnostic technology with the expertise of our physicians. Our goal is a precise and accurate diagnosis, so we can plan the most effective course of treatment.

Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Your doctor will begin the diagnosis by conducting a thorough physical exam and asking you about your symptoms and medical history. Be sure to be honest about what you are experiencing—your report of symptoms will help your doctor make the diagnosis.

Prostate Cancer Screening

Sometimes, doctors detect an abnormality during one of the routine prostate cancer screening tests. Screening test include:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE). During this procedure, your doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to examine your prostate. Your doctor can detect abnormalities in the size or shape of the prostate.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. We take a blood sample and analyze it for PSA. If a higher than normal level is present, it could be a sign of prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer Diagnostic Procedures

If your doctor found an abnormality during DRE or PSA test, then he or she may order other tests, including:

  • Ultrasound. A transrectal ultrasound can help your doctor further examine your prostate. Your doctor inserts the ultrasound wand into your rectum. Sound waves create a detailed image of your prostate.
  • Biopsy. A biopsy is a definitive procedure to diagnose prostate cancer. Your doctor collects tissue sample from your prostate, sending it to a lab. There, a pathologist examines it for presence of cancer cells.