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Weill Cornell Cancer Center

Detection and Diagnosis

PSA testing is most commonly used to detect prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that a PSA blood test and a digital rectal examination be offered to men at average risk of prostate cancer beginning at age 50, and that individuals at high risk of developing prostate cancer (African Americans or men with a strong family history of prostate cancer) should begin screening at age 45.

If a PSA test suggests that prostate cancer may be present, the patient may need a biopsy. Guided by transrectal ultrasound, the doctor uses a narrow needle to take several tissue samples from different areas of the prostate. The samples are sent to a pathologist to determine if they contain cancer cells.

Once a diagnosis of prostate cancer has been made, additional imaging tests—such as computed tomography scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and/or a bone scan—may be performed to determine if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. Weill Cornell offers an approach called endorectal MRI to achieve more precise images of the prostate.

Weill Cornell features a leading laboratory developing molecular biomarkers to distinguish slow-growing from aggressive prostate cancer. The laboratory's translational research team made a landmark discovery identifying the fusion of the TMPRSS2 and ETS genes in prostate cancer. This discovery could help clinicians predict the aggressiveness of a patient's prostate cancer and facilitate appropriate treatment.

We are already applying newer techniques for the early detection of prostate cancer—such as the PCA3 urine test, which has been suggested to be even more specific and sensitive for the detection of prostate cancer than the PSA test.

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