A prostate biopsy is the removal of tiny samples of prostate tissue to examine it for signs of prostate cancer.
The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland just under the bladder. It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate makes semen, the fluid that carries sperm.
Prostate gland biopsy; Transrectal prostate biopsy; Fine needle biopsy of the prostate; Core biopsy of the prostate; Targeted prostate biopsy; Prostate biopsy - transrectal ultrasound (TRUS); Stereotactic transperineal prostate biopsy (STPB)
How the Test is Performed
There are three main ways to perform a prostate biopsy.
Transrectal prostate biopsy - through the rectum. This is the most common method.
Other prostate biopsy methods are used, but not very often. These include:
Transurethral - through the urethra.
Perineal - through perineum (the skin between the anus and the scrotum).
How to Prepare for the Test
Your provider will inform you about the risks and benefits of the biopsy. You may have to sign a consent form.
Several days before the biopsy, your provider may tell you to stop taking any:
Continue to take any prescription medicines unless your provider tells you not to take them.
Your provider may ask you to:
How the Test will Feel
During the procedure you may feel:
After the procedure, you may have:
To prevent infection after the biopsy, your provider may prescribe antibiotics to take for several days after the procedure. Be sure you take the full dose as directed.
Why the Test is Performed
A biopsy is done to check for prostate cancer or to find the cause of an enlarged prostate.
Your provider may recommend a prostate biopsy if:
Normal results from the biopsy suggest that no cancer cells have been found.
What Abnormal Results Mean
A positive biopsy result means that cancer cells have been found. The lab will give the cells a grade called a Gleason score. This helps predict how fast the cancer will grow. Your doctor will talk to you about your treatment options.
The biopsy may also show cells that look abnormal, but may or may not be cancer. Your provider will talk with you about what steps to take. You may need another biopsy.
A prostate biopsy is generally safe. Risks include:
Babayan RK, Katz MH. Biopsy prophylaxis, technique, complications, and repeat biopsies. In: Mydlo JH, Godec CJ, eds. Prostate Cancer: Science and Clinical Practice. 2nd ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 9.
Gomella LG, Halpern EJ, Trabulsi EJ. Prostate biopsy: techniques and imaging. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 109.
Review Date: 10/10/2017
Reviewed By: Jennifer Sobol, DO, urologist with the Michigan Institute of Urology, West Bloomfield, MI. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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