Scared stiff of having a prostate biopsy?

Although the DRE and PSA tests are useful, they are not enough to make a clear diagnosis of prostate cancer. When results are abnormal or questionable, the doctor may prescribe a transrectal ultrasound and a biopsy. These examinations usually provide enough information for a precise diagnosis.

Having to undergo prostate biopsies can be scary: fear of the intervention, the pain it can cause, the unknown … or knowing you have prostate cancer. But remember, if you have cancer, the sooner it is diagnosed, the greater your chances of a complete cure with treatment!

Why a biopsy

Abnormalities detected during a digital rectal exam and a high PSA level often lead to a prostate biopsy. This procedure consists of taking small tissue samples of your prostate in order for the pathologist to examine them under a microscope to determine if they are cancerous or not.

That prostate biopsies are indicated does not mean that you necessarily have prostate cancer. Indeed, the analysis of microscopic specimens makes it possible to differentiate a benign hypertrophy from a cancer of the prostate.

To this day, the actual diagnosis of prostate cancer can only be made with a prostate biopsy.


A prostate biopsy is usually performed during a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS biopsy). The images taken with the ultrasound help guide a fine needle to the areas selected for sampling. The spring-loaded needle is attached to the ultrasound probe and enters the prostate through the rectum. You will feel some pressure when the probe is inserted, but it is usually not painful. Usually between 6 – 12 (sometimes more) prostatic tissue samples are obtained and the entire procedure lasts about 10 minutes. A local anesthetic can be used to numb the area and reduce any pain.

illustration  biopsie pour surveillance active cancer prostate

Avantages and limitations


  • A biopsy is the most efficient method of determining if you have cancer and how aggressive it is, that is, how likely it is to spread.
  • A biopsy can help you choose the appropriate treatment.
  • A biopsy can detect cancer at an early stage in its growth, which increases the chances that the appropriate treatment will prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of your body.


  • A biopsy can only detect cancer if it is found in the samples taken. It is possible that during sample collection, the biopsy needle could miss the cancerous areas. A normal biopsy result does not completely rule out prostate cancer.
  • A biopsy can detect a slow-growing, non-aggressive cancer that might not have caused any problems during your lifetime. In this case, you will need to decide between either undergoing treatment despite the risks or just keeping a close watch on it.
  • A biopsy can have side effects.


It takes about two weeks to get the biopsy results because the pathologist needs to examine the samples under a microscope before giving his report.

Take the time to visit each of our pages on this website, as well as our YouTube channel, in order to get familiar with the disease with our expert lectures, our section on available resources, the support that is offered to you.

Do you have any questions or concerns? Above all, do not hesitate. Contact us at 1 855 899-2873 to discuss with a nurse specializing in uro-oncology. It’s simple and free, like all our services.

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