Your physician may use the following tests and exams to screen for or confirm prostate cancer:

Digital Rectal Exam or DRE

The physician checks for hard or lumpy areas of the prostate by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feels the prostate through the rectal wall.

Blood Tests

Blood tests measure the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP). A physician can not diagnose prostate cancer with these tests alone because elevated PSA or PAP levels also indicate non-cancerous problems. These results of these screening tests indicate further investigation is necessary.

Urine Test

A urine test checks the urine for the presence of blood or infections.

Rectal Ultrasound Imaging or Transrectal Ultrasonography (TRUS)

A probe inserted into the rectum sends out sound waves. The waves bounce off the prostate and a computer uses the echoes to create a picture called a sonogram.


If the results of tests suggest cancer may be present, the physician will most likely perform a biopsy. This procedure is the only accurate method to diagnose prostate cancer. During a biopsy, the physician removes a small amount of prostate tissue, typically with a needle. A pathologist examines the specimen under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

Still have questions? Call us at 1-800-458-4372 to speak with one of our prostate cancer information specialists.