Prostate Biopsy to Diagnose Cancer | Tampa General Hospital

Prostate Biopsy 

A prostate biopsy is used to diagnose cancer. The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system and makes fluid for semen, which carries sperm. It’s a muscular gland that surrounds part of the urethra (the tube through which urine and sperm pass) and helps move sperm outside of the body during ejaculation.  

Why Is a Prostate Biopsy Performed? 

Problems with the prostate can involves difficulties with pushing urine or sperm out of the urethra and penis. In these instances, a doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy to determine what is causing the problem.  

In particular, a doctor may recommend this test if you have: 

  • A blood test showing high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)  
  • Lumps in the prostate or an otherwise abnormal prostate exam 
  • A previous biopsy that revealed abnormal tissues cells that weren’t cancerous at the time 

Results like these may suggest that you may be at a high risk for prostate cancer. 

Procedure Details 

A radiologist performs the procedure, which generally proceeds like this: 

You will be asked to lie on an examination table on your side and bring your knees to your chest. 

You may be administered a numbing medication in the area being tested to help reduce any discomfort. 

A lubricated ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum. 

A small needle is inserted through the probe and used to take miniscule tissue samples from the prostate. Mild pressure or discomfort may be experienced. 

The tissues samples are sent to a lab for analysis.  

What to Expect 

A prostate biopsy procedure is short, taking approximately 10 minutes to complete, and there is little you will need to do to prepare for the test. You may be prescribed an antibiotic to take before the procedure to prevent infection. In addition, you may be asked to eat lightly and only drink clear liquids beforehand. You can resume your normal daily activities following the procedure unless your doctor instructs you otherwise.  

Risks for a prostate biopsy procedure are low, but can include: 

  • Infection 
  • Blood in the urine or stool 
  • Difficultly urinating 


Prostate biopsy is an effective diagnostic tool, helping urologists identify and diagnose prostate cancer. At Tampa General Hospital, our team of urologists and oncologists work closely together to quickly and accurate diagnose prostate cancer and recommend treatments based on an individual’s unique condition and needs.