Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Rectal Exam: DRE should be part of annual physical checkup recommended for men over 40 years of age according to the American Cancer Society. By inserting a gloved finger into the rectum, the doctor feels the prostate surface through the bowel wall. Suspicious masses, abnormal texture, or hardness carried further research.
Prostate specific antigen. It is a protein produced in the prostate that can rise when cancer is present. The PSA levels can help the physician in monitoring a patient with prostate problems.
Puncture / biopsy of the prostate The only way to determine if a suspicious mass is cancer of the prostate is examined microscopically a sample of tissue taken from the area. This sample can be extracted by a needle placed directly into the prostate through the rectum or perineum (the space between the scrotum and anus). This procedure is called a needle-fine needle aspiration (FNA) or needle biopsy. A biopsy may also be obtained by an operation.
If there is cancer, several other procedures, including x-rays, laboratory tests and computerized diagnostic radiology procedures will be useful in determining the extent of the disease.
Read more about the various stages of prostate cancer here
Stage I (A). Prostate cancer at this stage do not feel and does not cause any symptoms. Cancer is found only in the prostate and detected by chance.
Stage II (B). The cancer cells are found only in the prostate gland. The tumor can be detected through a needle biopsy, or by simple digital rectal examination.
Stage III (C). The cancer cells have spread outside the covering (capsule) of the prostate to surrounding tissues.
Stage IV (D). Spread (metastasize) to lymph nodes (near or far from the prostate) or to organs and tissues located far from the prostate, bone, liver or lungs.
Relapse. The cancer comes back after having been treated. It may come in the prostate or elsewhere in the body.
TNM classification. Prostate cancer can also be classified using
T (tumor size)
N (extent of spread to lymph nodes)
M (extent of spread to other parts of the body).