A prostate biopsy is a procedure that is used to collect a sample of suspicious tissue from the prostate to check for cancer and symptoms. A prostate is a tiny, walnut-shaped gland in men which is responsible for producing fluid required to nourish the sperm. A prostate biopsy collects a suspicious tissue of the prostate to check for prostate cancer – which is one of the most common forms of cancer in males.
Prostate cancer is highly treatable, provided the cancer is detected early and adequate medical help is received. The main diagnostic tests for prostate cancer are the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and the digital rectal examination (DRE). If the results of these tests are positive, the doctor might do a prostate biopsy to diagnose prostate cancer effectively. Sometimes, prostate cancer does not produce symptoms. Thus, it is critical to get regular health check-up, especially for men above the age of 45.
Purpose of a Prostate Biopsy
The prime objective of a prostate biopsy is to detect prostate cancer. A prostate biopsy may be conducted to when:
- The PSA test shows higher values than normal
- There are lumps or other abnormalities detected during a rectal exam
- The previous biopsy was normal, but the PSA levels are still high
- An older biopsy showed non-cancerous, abnormal prostate tissue cells
The procedure of a Prostate Biopsy
In a prostate biopsy, the patient is asked to lie on the side or on the stomach, with knees folded and pulled up, closer to the chest. Post the cleaning of the area, a gel is applied to allow a flexible, thin ultrasound probe to be inserted the rectum. Post this, high-frequency sound waves are sued to produce images of the area. The doctor will then numb the target area through an injection to minimize discomfort during the procedure. The images are then used to guide the prostate needle to collect thin, cylindrical portions of tissue. The patient might experience slight discomfort, every time the needle collects a sample. On an average, 10-12 samples are collected either from a targeted area or from several areas in the prostate.
Post the procedure, the patient should not indulge in heavy physical activities for at least 24 to 48 hours; the doctor will also recommend antibiotics for a few days to fasten the recovery. However, as an aftereffect of the procedure, a person might experience:
- Soreness or light bleeding from the rectum
- Blood in urine
- Blood in stool
- Some blood in semen
These symptoms will tend to fade in a few days. However, you must call the doctor, in case you have:
- Problem in urinating
- Consistent and excessive bleeding
- Worsening pain
The samples collected will then be analysed by a specialist, who will check for any cancer or other abnormalities. The prostate biopsy sample can indicate the type of cancer and how aggressive the cancer is. Based on the report of the pathologist, the doctor will decide the future course of treatment.
Recovery of Prostate Biopsy
The recovery procedure post a prostate biopsy will depend on the type of anaesthesia used. In the case of general anaesthesia, the patient will be kept under observation to examine the blood pressure, breathing, and pulse. Once stabilised, the patient is either discharged or kept under precautionary observation for some time, depending on the patient’s health condition.
In case local anaesthesia was used to do the biopsy, the patient is discharged the same day and can return to routine activities and diet unless otherwise instructed though you might experience mild after-effects of the surgery that will go away with time. Also, there will be a constant urge to urinate, which will also pass after a few hours.
Side Effects of Prostate Biopsy
A prostate biopsy is a safe procedure though it can have some side effects or risks, such as:
- Bleeding at the site of the biopsy
- Blood in semen which makes the semen appear red or rust in colour.
- Blood in urine
- Problem in urinating
- Infection of the urinary tract or prostate
These side effects and risks are not a matter of serious concern and are considered the normal post a prostate biopsy; these will fade on their own in a matter of days. In case they do not go away or intensify along with other side effects such as fever, worsening pain, etc. – the doctor must be consulted.
In cases where a prostate biopsy causes sepsis – a life-threatening infection, immediate medical attention should be provided. Signs of sepsis include:
A rapid or abnormal heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Pain and discomfort
- Excessive sweaty skin
In all, a prostate biopsy is a safe method to analyse cancer and other related prostate problems; it is also very effective in removing benign tumours. That said, complete knowledge about the procedure, its purpose, side effects and the recovery period must be obtained from the doctor.