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Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

To detect and diagnose prostate cancer, our doctors perform thorough exams. They also ask questions about your past health and any symptoms you may have noticed. The goal of prostate cancer screening is to locate and diagnose cancer early, which improves the chances for successful treatment.

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

Prostate cancer screening may be offered by your primary care physician, a urology specialist or other specialty care physician. The most common ways to screen for prostate cancer are a physical evaluation and checking your PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels:

  • Digital rectal exam is when your doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger in your rectum to feel your prostate. This is the most common way to check for prostate cancer.

  • PSA blood test that shows higher than normal PSA levels may mean you have prostate cancer. High PSA levels can also point to an enlarged or infected prostate gland.

Advances in prostate cancer diagnosis

To be sure you receive the most accurate diagnosis, our nationally recognized prostate cancer experts use the latest and most advanced diagnostic technology, including micro-ultrasound guided biopsy. In fact, our prostate cancer experts are the first and only in the region to offer micro-ultrasound prostate-guided biopsy.

This new tool’s high-resolution images dramatically improve clarity over conventional transrectal ultrasound in detecting and staging prostate cancer. Its magnified images provide 300% improved clarity over conventional transrectal ultrasound, allowing a visualization depth of 70 microns – the width of a human hair. In addition, micro-ultrasound offers reduced cost, in-office examinations and accessibility when compared to MRI-targeted prostate biopsy. Overall, micro-ultrasound prostate-guided biopsy shortens the timespan from a patient receiving PSA results to a biopsy being performed.

Understanding your risk for prostate cancer

Several noncancerous conditions can cause an enlarged prostate and/or elevated PSA levels. PSA levels can also vary from person to person and change with age. Your doctor will recommend additional testing, possibly with a urologist or a urology specialist at the cancer center, before he or she can make an accurate prostate cancer diagnosis.

To help you understand your prostate cancer risk and screening options, your doctor may refer you to The Burns & McDonald High-Risk Prostate Cancer Screening Program. The goal of the program is to personalize prostate cancer testing – based on your risk factors, general health and screening goals – and to closely monitor high-risk patients. This program provides vital tools to help with early detection of prostate cancer, when it is most treatable.

Tools to test for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer testing may include a transrectal prostate ultrasound, which is a standard tool for diagnosing many prostatic diseases, such as prostate cancer, prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia. With transrectal ultrasound, a probe the size of a finger is inserted into the rectum and ultrasound waves are bounced off the prostate to create a picture of the prostate called a sonogram.

Another valuable tool to detect prostate cancer is MRI or magnetic resonance imaging, which uses magnets and radio waves to produce images of the prostate on a computer. MRI can also help guide a targeted prostate biopsy.

If your PSA is high, or if your doctor finds anything during the rectal exam, he or she may schedule a biopsy. During a biopsy, your doctor takes a sample of tissue from your prostate gland and sends it to a lab for testing. In the lab, your results are evaluated by a subspecialized physician, a genitourinary pathologist, to determine your risk of cancer or if cancer is present in the tissue sample. Having your biopsy assessed by a genitourinary subspecialist ensures you receive the most accurate reading to understand your risk of cancer and/or whether cancer cells are present.

A biopsy is the only way to diagnose prostate cancer. However, other tests may be used prior to a biopsy to better understand your risk of prostate cancer. These tests can include advanced blood tests and imaging, such as an MRI.

image of Prostate Cancer Survivor Bob Honse

Frightening diagnosis

Bob Honse’s wife said her husband was 1 in a million. But as it turned out, he was 1 in 9. Bob was diagnosed with fast-growing, aggressive prostate cancer.
Bob's story

Start your path today.

Your journey to health starts here. Call 913-588-1227 or request an appointment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

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