Prostate Cancer Screening
False-Positive Test Results
Test results may appear to be abnormal even though no cancer is present. A false-positive test result (one that shows there is cancer when there really isn't) can cause anxiety and is usually followed by more tests (such as a biopsy), which also have risks. A biopsy to diagnose prostate cancer can cause bleeding and infection.
Your doctor can advise you about your risk for prostate cancer and your need for screening tests.
Most men who go for further testing do not have cancer. If your PSA test or DRE suggests a problem, your doctor most likely will refer you to a urologist (a doctor who has special training in prostate-related problems). Additional testing is necessary to determine if the problem is cancer or something else.
The urologist may perform a transrectal ultrasound -- a small probe inserted into the rectum that bounces sound waves off the prostate, producing a video image. Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) does not provide enough specific information to make it a good screening tool by itself, but some doctors find it useful as a follow-up to a suspicious DRE or PSA test.
If the urologist suspects cancer, tiny samples of the prostate may be removed with a needle. This is called a biopsy. A biopsy is usually performed in the urologist's office. The samples are examined under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present.