Diagnostic tests

If caught in the early stages, prostate cancer can be cured. There are a number of diagnostic tests, the most common are the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination (DRE).

A prostate biopsy is the taking of tissue samples from the prostate gland and examining them under a microscope for cancer cells. This can be done using either the transrectal or transperineal technique. Approximately 25 to 35% of patients having a biopsy will have cancer, depending upon their risk factors.

Cystoscopy is an endoscopic procedure where a tube is inserted into the urethra through the opening at the end of the penis. It allows me to visually examine the complete length of the urethra and the bladder for polyps, strictures, abnormal growths and other problems.

Recent developments in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have improved the ability of MRI to detect tumours, stage cancer and help in management decisions. They are also helping to more accurately target biopsies.

PSMA PET scanning is a relatively new diagnostic technology that greatly assists in localising the extent of prostate cancer. It can do this not only in the area of the prostate but also in the lymph glands and bones. As a result, therapy can be targeted more appropriately.

Screening for prostate cancer attempts to diagnose serious cancers in those without symptoms earlier and improves the cure rate. Prostate Specific Antigen, also known as PSA is a simple blood test that is often used in the screening of prostate cancer. Individuals may request PSA screening or be selected for screening when they present with urinary symptoms.

Urodynamic studies are performed to examine and assess the function and/or dysfunction of the lower urinary tract. Urinary assessment takes about 30-45 minutes to perform, and causes little discomfort. If cystoscopy is also performed the assessment takes approximately 60 minutes.