The diagnosis of prostrate cancer is done by doing a biopsy of the prostrate gland. The PSA test is performed and if the test is found to be abnormal, the cancer test is positive. The biopsy of the prostrate gland is done transrectally and the signs are obtained by ultrasound images. A needle is used to cut a small portion of the prostate gland. Normally, portions are taken from the base, apex and mid area of the prostrate gland. Sometimes, a large number of samples are taken to gain more efficiency. This happens normally in glands which are larger in size. The cut portion is further examined under a microscope by a pathologist, who then identifies the cancerous cells in the tissue.
Once the prostrate cancer is diagnosed, the pathologist further examines the pieces on a Gleason scale. The scale determines the characteristics of cancerous cells and thus detects the aggressiveness of the prostrate cancer. Based on the scores given by the scale, a proper treatment is suggested depending upon the intensity of the cancer. The main objective of this test is to determine the intensity of the risk of the prostrate cancer. A higher score suggests that the cancer has infected the lymph node and has resulted in metastases or secondary growth. People having a moderate score have a very little risk from the cancer while those who get a high score face a tremendous risk of cancer.
For proper diagnosis of cancer, early symptoms of cancer should be reported like abnormal bowel or bladder habits, a wound that does not heal, an unusual bleeding or discharge, lump in the breast or other parts of the body, indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, cough or sore throat. The doctor physically examines the patient and checks his medical and family history. He also tells various tests to be done. The tests include imaging in which pictures of the internal body parts are visible. This is also called as endoscopy. In this, the doctor can examine the internal organs directly through some laboratory tests. In imaging, the doctor is able to exactly tell where the cancer is present. Many times, the doctor uses special dyes because of which some organs get highlighted on a film. The dye can be injected in the body with the help of a needle or a tube.
X-Rays are the most common routes through which the doctor can see inside the body. In this kind of imaging, a CT or CAT scan is used in which the computer is connected to a x-ray machine, giving pictures as an output.
In radionuclide scanning, a mild radioactive substance is injected inside the body. The patient can also swallow it. Further, a scanner measures the radioactivity taking place inside the internal organs. Finally, a picture is printed on a paper or a film. The doctor can detect the abnormal areas in the body due to the intensity of the radioactivity in the body.
Ultrasonography also can be used to view the internal body organs. In this, high frequency sound waves are allowed to enter the body. These waves bounce back and produce a sonogram. The sonogram which is a picture is produced on a monitor of a TV screen.