Prostate Problem Guide
How Effective Is The Prostate Biopsy?
One million prostate biopsies are carried out in the United States alone each year and, of these, about 25 percent show positive results for the presence of prostate cancer. Another 25 percent of these biopsies however produce false negative results. This means that 25 percent of those men currently having prostate biopsies are being cleared by their biopsy, in spite of the fact that they actually have prostate cancer.
This does not means that there is anything wrong with the procedure and the prostate biopsy still remains a vital tool in the identification of prostate cancer. It does mean however that there is a need for doctors to identify those patients who are at high risk from prostate cancer and who should therefore undergo a further follow-up biopsy.
At present there is no easy way to identify patients at risk, but a recent study of more than 500 men being investigated for prostate cancer could well provide a solution.
The men in the study group had all previously received a negative biopsy result and researchers discovered that, when they looked at the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test results and adjusted this for the size of the prostate gland, they could identify those men who were more likely to show a positive result on a follow-up biopsy.
At the same time, the researchers noted that a Gleeson score of 7 or above was indicative of the existence of a life-threatening prostate cancer which needed to be confirmed in a further biopsy. Running on a scale of 2 to 10, the Gleeson score is found by investigating biopsy tissue under a microscope. A low Gleeson score indicates a tumor with a low risk of spread while a high score indicates a tumor which is more likely to spread.
The prostate biopsy is not a particularly pleasant procedure and is one that causes a lot of men considerable anxiety. It is also be a painful procedure, sometimes accompanied by bleeding, and patients run the risk of infection following a biopsy. Finally, the prostate biopsy is a relatively expensive procedure.
For all of these reasons it is in everybody's interest to find a way to identify those men for whom a further biopsy is advisable and to reduce the number of unnecessary follow-up biopsies that are currently being performed every year.