After my urologist felt “a suspicious lump” and scheduled me for a prostate biopsy, anxiety and fear became my constant companions. There were two primary sources of my fear. The first involved my fear of the procedure. The second involved the fear of receiving my biopsy results.
Knowing next to nothing about a prostate biopsy, I did what is second nature when needing information. I went online and searched “preparing for a prostate biopsy,” and received more than 150,000 Google hits. My eyes glazed over. The amount of information was overwhelming.
I allowed my fears to determine the questions that needed answers. I’ve come to believe that anyone who is told they need a prostate biopsy should receive a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Here’s my list of questions; hopefully, the answers will reduce your fears as it did mine.
How is a prostate biopsy performed? A transrectal biopsy is the most common method used. A thin needle is inserted through the rectum, into the prostate. Several thin cylindrical “cores” of prostate tissue are removed and examined for prostate cancer.
Is the procedure painful? The experience of pain is highly subjective. You should know if or how your urologist plans to reduce your pain. If you’re told there’s no need to reduce the pain, it’s my suggestion you insist on pain relief. With pain relief, I’d say my pain level was at six on a scale with 10 being the most painful. Thankfully, the test doesn’t take very long.
What are the ways to reduce the pain? My urologist injected lidocaine, which is a numbing drug, into my prostate to reduce the pain. The good news is the injection worked. The bad news is the injection to reduce your pain is mildly painful.
What are the risks of a prostate biopsy? You’ll receive and sign a form detailing the risks of a biopsy. The most common risks cited are bleeding at the biopsy site, rectal bleeding, or infection. You may see blood in your urine. Your semen may be blood-colored for a week or so. Temporary impotence is not listed as a risk, but I was in the minority of men who experienced temporary impotence, lasting approximately two weeks, after my biopsy.
What do I need to know in order to understand my biopsy result?YourGleason score is a measure of how aggressive your tumor is likely to be. It is made by a pathologist looking at the cancer under the microscope.
Receiving the answers to your questions and concerns before your biopsy is the best way to prepare and reduce your fears about this procedure.