A biopsy of the prostate is a surgical procedure in which (usually) many small sections of prostate tissue (known as “cores”) are removed from the prostate for microscopic examination.
A biopsy will often be recommended if a digital rectal examination (DRE) reveals a lump or some other abnormality in the prostate. It may also be recommended if a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test suggests an abnormal level of PSA in the patient’s blood (based on his age and other factors).
In theory, there are three possible ways to perform a prostate biopsy:
- By inserting a biopsy needle into the prostate through the wall of the rectum
- By inserting a biopsy needle into the prostate through the perineum (the area between the base of the penis and the rectum)
- By cystoscopy, in which tissue may be removed as part of a transurethral resection of the prostate (carried out as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia)
In the United States, the first of these three methods is by far the most common prostate biopsy procedure today. Before the procedure is performed, the patient may be given a sedative to help him relax; he may be asked to have an enema before the biopsy is carried out; and he will normally be asked to take a short course of antibiotics to prevent any possible infection.