What is a prostate biopsy? Well, a prostate biopsy is a medical procedure, in which a small amount of prostate tissue is removed for examination. Usually the sample is used to test for cancer. This procedure is normally performed by an urologist, following an abnormal (higher than normal) prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, and/or signs of an irregularity close to your prostate (diagnosed through a digital rectal exam). A “positive” biopsy means that you have some level of prostate cancer, while a “negative” biopsy suggests that you are cancer-free.
It is important to note that it is common to experience fear and anxiety at the thought of having a prostate biopsy; but it is never wise to prolong it. In fact, delaying the procedure will only give your condition a chance to worsen, if it is indeed cancer. According to the American Urologic Association (2014), prostate cancer screening typically begins around the age of 55. Many times, a prostate biopsy is ordered as a result of prostate test irregularities and abnormalities. If you are interested in learning more about the prostate biopsy process, you have come to the right place. This article will ease your stress by explaining to you what happens during and following a prostate biopsy.
What happens during the procedure? During a prostate biopsy, an urologist will examine your prostate gland by inserting an ultrasound probe into your rectum. He/she then fires an 18-gauge needle into your prostate gland, using a spring-loaded gun. During this time, approximately 12 prostate tissue samples are removed. This procedure typically takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. More information here.
What should I do during the recovery process? Well, you should definitely take your prescribed antibiotics. It is important that you continue taking the antibiotics even when you start to feel “more like yourself.” If you experience unpleasant side-effects or an allergic reaction, contact your urologist or seek emergency treatment. In addition, drink plenty of fluids, following the procedure. The liquid will dilute your urine, preventing blood clot formations in your bladder.
Do not be alarmed, if you notice blood in your urine, this is normal, and should pass within a few days. You may also pass a couple of blood clots when defecating (bowel movements) or urinating. This is also normal, but if the bleeding worsens or persists for over a week, contact your urologist. Lastly, it is normal to see a small amount of blood when you ejaculate. This side-effect can last for several months, following the biopsy.
Is there anything I should be aware of? Well, you should not lift or hold heavy objects for at least 24 to 48 hours, following the biopsy. In addition, refrain from consuming alcohol for the first 24 hours, after the biopsy. Rigorous exercises and sexual intercourse are not recommended for at least a week, following the procedure. If you experience chills, a high fever, an inability to urinate, and/or bloody urine that persists for more than a week, and/or rectal bleeding that lasts longer than 72 hours, contact your urologist or seek emergency treatment.
When should I expect my results? Well, you may have to wait up to a week to receive your results, depending on the laboratory. A pathologist examines your prostate tissue under a microscope to determine if there are any cancerous cells on your prostate gland. Many times the 1st biopsy only detects 75% of prostate cancers; so many urologists recommend a 2nd biopsy within three months (Lopez-Corona, 2006).
American Urologic Association. (2014). Detection of prostate cancer. Retrieved from https://www.auanet.org/education/guidelines/prostate-cancer-detection.cfm
Lopez-Corona. E. (2006). Prostate cancer diagnosed after repeat biopsies have a favorable pathological outcome but similar recurrence rat. The Journal of Urology, 175(3). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1951512/