Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

Screening for Prostate Cancer

Scott & White follows the recommendations of the American Urology Association for prostate screening.

  • All males should have a baseline PSA screening at age 40.
  • African-American males and males with a family history of prostate cancer should have their PSA levels checked annually thereafter.
  • All others should begin annual PSA check-ups at age 50 if no abnormalities are found at age 40.

If it’s determined you have prostate cancer, your physician will discuss treatment options with you. You’ll then be followed closely, getting PSA screenings every four to six months for the remainder of your life.

The S&W Prostate Cancer Team recommends a biopsy at one year and another every other year unless there’s a change in your PSA.

Monitoring your PSA checks for recurrence or spread of your prostate cancer.

Support Throughout the Diagnostic Process

Our physicians, nurses and support staff are here to advise you, listen to you and calm your fears. Your physicians will explain your diagnosis and compassionately offer suggestions for treatment and care. Their job is to help you.

Also available for counsel, support and guidance are nurse coordinators, oncology social workers and a pastoral team. They’ll help you navigate through the system and provide additional assistance, including:

  • Social support
  • Spiritual guidance
  • Emotional support
  • Practical advice
  • Tips on coping

Call on them. They’re here for you.

Early-stage prostate cancer generally has no symptoms, and in most cases, it's slow growing. You may have prostate cancer a long time and not know it.

In many cases, prostate cancer is discovered during testing for other diseases or concerns.

However, if prostate cancer is not detected and is left untreated, prostate cancer cells may slowly spread through your bloodstream and lymph system into other organs. When the disease is more advanced, you may experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • Painful urination
  • Difficulty urinating, such as trouble starting or stopping or dribbling
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful ejaculation

But the prognosis for cure for prostate cancer is excellent at Scott & White — if you’ve had regular screening, an early diagnosis and expert treatment by our specially trained oncologists.

At Scott & White, our team of top-notch diagnostic radiologists and urologic surgical oncologists are on the forefront of diagnostic procedures and techniques.

And we’ve got first-rate pathologists who are nationally recognized at identifying and classifying tumors, providing key information for your care team that will assist them in making treatment decisions.

Prostate Cancer Diagnostic Services

At Scott & White Healthcare, we use the most advanced diagnostic equipment available to detect, identify and evaluate your prostate tumors early, when cure is most likely.

If your physician suspects you may have prostate cancer, he or she may recommend one or more of the following tests.

Physical Exams and Laboratory Tests

  • Physical examination and history. Your physician will begin with a thorough physical exam and medical history.
  • PSA Test. PSA—prostate-specific antigen—is a protein produced by the prostate gland. An elevated or steadily rising PSA level in your blood is an indicator that cancerous or abnormal cells may be present in your prostate. If levels are high for your age, or increasing, your physician may recommend a biopsy.
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE). Your physician will insert a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum and check your prostate for bumps or other abnormalities.
  • If either or both the PSA and DRE yields abnormal results, your physician may recommend a prostate biopsy.

The PSA test is one of our most important diagnostic tools in the fight against prostate cancer.

Kristofer R. Wagner, MD, Urology; Director – Robotic Surgery


A biopsy is the best way to confirm the presence of prostate cancer. Your physician may order a biopsy if cancer is suspected based on the results of other diagnostic tests.

A biopsy is a surgical procedure in which tiny samples of prostate tissue are removed. A prostate biopsy usually takes about 10 minutes in your urologist’s office.

In this procedure, your physician will use local anesthesia to numb the area around your prostate. Your physician will then pass a small needle through your rectum to remove around 12 small tissue samples from your prostate. The tissue samples will be sent to the laboratory for examination by a pathologist.

Imaging Tests

If you have a positive diagnosis of prostate cancer, your physician may order one or more of the following imaging tests to determine whether your cancer has spread to other parts of your body.

  • Computed tomography (CT) Scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Chest X-Ray
  • Bone Scan

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