How to Read a Prostate Cancer Pathology Report

Why this resource is helpful:

If you"ve just received the results of a prostate pathology report from your doctor, you may have questions that you didn"t think about when you first spoke with your doctor. While you can certainly always check back with your doctor for more clarification, we"ll walk you through the information that is included in a prostate pathology report.

Understanding Your Prostate Pathology Report
A pathology report describes the findings of a prostate biopsy. It provides information about whether abnormal cells or cancer were found, and it will be used to:

Determine the stage and severity of any cancer that was found
Determine if prostate cancer treatment is needed and if so, what types.
Decide how often you"ll need future prostate screenings
Prostate Cancer Screening Before a Biopsy
The PSA blood test is used to screen for prostate cancer. Higher levels ((4.0 to 10.0 ng/mL) of prostate-specific antigen (a substance made by the prostate) in the blood is a strong indicator that cancer is present. However, other conditions can raise your PSA level, including an enlarged prostate, an infection or inflammation, if you"re taking certain medications, or getting older. PSA levels normally go up as you age, even if you have no prostate problems.

Based on your PSA level, your urologist may recommend a prostate biopsy to confirm or rule out cancer. PSA tests are also used after prostate cancer treatment (such as radiation or surgery) to see how well your treatment worked.

Negative or Benign Findings in Your Prostate Pathology Report
The report will indicate one of three levels of prostate health. A negative finding means there was no cancer or unusual tissue in your prostate. This finding is called "benign," meaning there are no signs of cancer at this time. And, if your PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening test indicates a low likelihood of cancer, you probably won"t need any more tests for a while. Your doctor will discuss how often you should be screened for prostate cancer.

You may have a repeat biopsy to check the parts of your prostate that were not biopsied the first time. This precaution can rule out a false-negative result. False-negative means cancer cells or other suspicious tissue were missed when biopsy samples were taken. Your doctor may order urine, blood, or other lab tests to gather more information.

Atypical or Abnormal Findings in Your Prostate Pathology Report
The pathology report may indicate results that are not normal. These are called atypical. This means there are changes in your prostate cells, but it does not necessarily mean cancer has been found.

A pathology report describes the findings of a prostate biopsy. It provides information about whether prostate cancer cells were found. Learn more.
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