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An extensive prostate biopsy to diagnose prostate cancer
A prostate biopsy is a common test for cancer, which will be recommended if you are showing signs that indicate prostate cancer, for example:
Sometimes, your symptoms or PSA levels can indicate a high risk of prostate cancer, but standard prostate biopsies come back negative. If your consultant still feels that more investigation needs to be done, for example:
If this is the case, a saturation biopsy of the prostate may be recommended.
If you are interested in learning more about saturation biopsies of the prostate or any other of our cancer screening services, call or book online to arrange an appointment with a specialist.
PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, which is a protein found in your blood that is only produced by the prostate gland. Elevated prostate-specific antigen levels are an indication that you might have prostate cancer. A PSA test is a blood test that analyses your PSA levels, which can be used as an indication of your risk for prostate cancer. It is not a test for cancer and it is not foolproof, however it is a useful tool in prostate cancer detection.
Saturation prostate biopsies are specialised biopsies that are carried out differently to standard biopsies of the prostate.
Standard prostate biopsies are usually done by passing a needle through the wall of your rectum. This is called a transrectal biopsy. Typically, your consultant will use ultrasound scanning to see where the needle is inside your body and guide it to the right place.
You can also have a standard prostate biopsy where the needle is inserted through your perinium, which is the bit of skin between your anus and your scrotum. This is called a transperineal biopsy, and we normally use either CT scanning or MRI scanning to help us guide the needle.
A saturation biopsy can also be carried out transrectally or transperineally. Again, your consultant will typically use an ultrasounded-guided prostate biopsy, but they might use CT or MRI technology instead.
While a standard prostate biopsy is carried out using local anaesthetic or sedation, a saturation biopsy is usually performed under general anaesthetic. This means you will be asleep the whole time and won't feel pain.
While a standard biopsy might take 10-12 biopsies, the saturation biopsy will gather 20-30 needle biopsies from your prostate. Specialist equipment is required that allows your surgeon to gather a wider variety of samples from across your prostate.
It is also possible that the saturation biopsy will pick up smaller tumours that might be missed by a standard biopsy, and that it will offer a better biopsy of the whole of the prostate gland, giving better coverage.
Your consultant will give you a detailed explanation of everything to expect during your recovery so that you feel informed and prepared.
You might be given a course of antibiotics, but not everyone will need these. You will probably be sore and might have a little bleeding from your bottom or a bit of blood in your urine, stools or semen. This can last a few weeks, but if you're worried about it get in touch with your care team.
Occasionally, people experience swelling in their prostate after the procedure, which can affect your ability to pee. We might need to insert a catheter for a few days as this settles.
If you would like to see a consultant or learn more about cancer screening and cancer treatment, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.
Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in March 2023. Next review due March 2026.