Prostate Biopsy

Cross section of prostate and rectum showing needle biopsy of prostate.Cancer occurs when abnormal cells form a tumor. A tumor is a lump of cells that grow uncontrolled. A core needle biopsy will be done if your health care provider thinks you have prostate cancer. A thin needle is used to remove small samples of prostate tissue. These samples are checked for cancer.

Taking tissue samples

A biopsy takes about 15 to 20 minutes. You may be given an enema or suppository before the biopsy to clear the bowels. Antibiotics are given at least 1 hour prior to the biopsy. During the procedure:

  • You will be given antibiotics to stop infection.

  • You may be given a sedative, local pain killer, or pain medicine.

  • A small probe is put into the rectum as you lie on your side. A picture of your prostate can then be seen on a monitor. This is called a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS).

  • Your health care provider will use the TRUS picture as a guide. He or she will use a thin needle to remove tiny tissue samples from some sites in the prostate.

  • These tissue samples are sent to the pathology department. They are looked at under a microscope so a diagnosis can be made. 

Risks and complications of core needle biopsy

  • Infection

  • Blood in urine, stool, or semen

  • Pain

Home care

You may have had the biopsy done through your rectum, your urethra, or through the skin between your scrotum and rectum. Your health care provider will tell you what to do after the biopsy. These instructions are based on your health condition, the type of biopsy, and your provider’s practices.

  • Your provider may give you pain medicine or acetaminophen for discomfort or pain. Follow your provider’s instructions for taking these medicines. Don’t take aspirin or ibuprofen after the procedure. If you have a chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your provider before taking these medicines. Also talk with your provider if you’ve had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding. 

  • You may need to take antibiotic medicine for 1 to 2 days. This will help prevent an infection. Signs of an infection include chills, pain, or fever.

  • You may be told to drink 8 ounces of water every 30 minutes for 2 hours. This will help ease any discomfort. You can also take a warm bath or put a warm, damp washcloth over your urethra to help ease the pain.

  • You may see minor bleeding after the procedure. This is normal and usually needs no treatment. You may see blood in your urine or semen (rust color). You may also have light bleeding from your rectum if you have hemorrhoids.

  • Your provider will tell you when you can go back to your normal activities. This includes sex, exercise, and straining physically. Discuss these with your provider.

When to seek medical advice

Call your health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • You aren’t able to urinate, or see that you have less flow of urine

  • Chills and fever of 100.4°F (38°C)  

  • Severe pain

  • Signs of your infection getting worse. These include worsening pain, pain in your side under the rib cage or in the low back, or foul-smelling urine.

  • Blood clots or bright red blood in your stool or urine

  • You feel confused or very tired


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