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Your GP will ask you a series of questions to assist with a diagnosis and any further examination or tests they may consider necessary.

The initial step is likely to be a digital rectal examination. Generally uncomfortable rather than painful, this is a short procedure which allows the doctor to identify the physical nature of the prostate. You will usually be asked to lie on your side whilst the doctor inserts a lubricated finger into your back passage.They may also ask for a urine sample to identify any infection or blood in your urinary system.

The most common way of diagnosing prostate cancer is the PSA test. This is a simple blood test to identify whether PSA, a normal product of the prostate gland, is appearing in the blood at “above normal” levels. Generally, though by no means always, men with a higher incidence of PSA in their blood are found to have prostate cancer. The higher the reading, the more aggressive the cancer is likely to be but this is neither a precise nor 100% reliable measurement and for this reason the medical profession view the result of any such test with great care. If the level is high however, the doctor will generally direct further tests to be carried out.

This will probably lead to a referral to the outpatients department at your local Dept of Urology where some of the tests may be repeated and where they may also conduct new explorations. These may include taking a tissue sample (biopsy) via the back passage and also scanning the prostate and surrounding area with radiographic (x-ray) equipment. These techniques will seek to establish the presence of a cancer and to identify how far, if at all, it may have spread.