A man with prostate cancer may not have any symptoms. Men who do have symptoms might experience urinary problems, difficulty having an erection, and blood in the urine or semen. Often, these symptoms are caused by something other than cancer.

Doctors check for prostate cancer before men have any symptoms. They use physical exams and one or more of the following tests:

Digital Rectal Exam - The doctor uses a lubricated, gloved finger inserted into the rectum to feel the prostate for hard or lumpy areas.

Blood Test - A lab checks the levels of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) in the blood. The prostate makes PSA, and a high level in the blood might be caused by cancer. These tests can detect a problem in the prostate, but they can’t determine if it is cancer.

If you have an abnormal test, you doctor may suggest other tests, including a urine test or one or more of the following:

Transrectal Ultrasound - The doctor inserts a probe into the prostate. Sound waves and a computer are used to create a picture of the prostate and check for abnormalities.

Transrectal Biopsy - This test is the only sure way to diagnose prostate cancer. A doctor inserts a needle through the rectum and into the prostate and removes small tissue samples called cores from several areas of the prostate. Transrectal ultrasound is often used to guide the needles. A pathologist looks at the samples under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

Once the results from the test or procedure are returned you will be able to make thoughtful decisions. Please see Newly Diagnosed for information on being patient active, treatment decisions, partnering with your healthcare team and finding support.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult. Please see Caregivers and/or Online Community for more information on how the Cancer Support Community can offer support.

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