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Saturation biopsies of the prostate

An extensive prostate biopsy to diagnose prostate cancer

Doctor points at an anatomy model to explain how a saturation biopsy of the prostate procedure works
A saturation biopsy is a type of test used to check for cancerous tissues in your prostate gland. It is more extensive than a standard biopsy in that it retrieves more tissue samples, giving pathologists a greater range of cells to test for the presence of 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:

  • If your PSA levels are higher than normal
  • If abnormalities are found during a rectal exam

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 your results came back as normal but your PSA levels are still high
  • If a previous biopsy found abnormal cells that weren't cancerous

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.

What is a PSA score?

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.

A biopsy is a medical procedure where a small sample of tissue is taken from a specific area of your body to examine it under a microscope. It is a very common way of testing for cancerous cells . A needle biopsy uses a hollow needle to obtain the tissue. This is typically the type of biopsy used on your prostate.

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 possible that a saturation biopsy of your prostate will detect cancer that was not picked up by a standard biopsy. This is because the procedure takes more samples, giving the pathologist more to analyse.

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.

Recovery times are quick after saturation biopsies of the prostate. Your consultant will usually recommend that you take it easy for 24-48 hours after the procedure, stick to light activities and ideally take some time off work.

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.

Risks of this type of prostate biopsy are minimal and typically limited to a bit of soreness and light bleeding. Infection or heavy bleeding are rare.

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.

Our pathology team will need time to process and analyse the tissue samples collected using the needle biopsies, but we will get the results to you as soon as we can and you shouldn't be waiting long. Your consultant will give you a better idea of the time you can expect to wait based on your personal circumstances.

At Circle Health Group we have the experience and expertise to ensure the best possible care and outcome for our patients. As a patient with Circle Health Group, you can expect the highest standards of care including:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations that are convenient for you
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • A range of delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

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.

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