Detection and Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer screening and diagnosis

Prostate cancer is most commonly found in men who are 65 and older. Scripps affiliated physicians have offices conveniently located throughout San Diego County for prostate cancer screening. Early detection is important. The American Cancer Society recommends that men begin discussions with their physicians about prostate cancer testing at the following ages:

  • Age 50 if at average (normal) risk.
  • Age 45 if at high risk (African American men or those with a first-degree family relative — father, brother or son — diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65).
  • Age 40 if at higher risk (men with more than one first-degree family relative who has had prostate cancer before age 65).

Screening for prostate cancer

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) projects that nearly a quarter million U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. Prostate cancer is usually found through an exam, test and/or procedure that provide physicians the needed data and clinical findings to evaluate and begin to stage the cancer, as well as recommend a course of proactive treatment or management. The most common ways to test for prostate cancer are:

  • A blood test that measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man’s blood.
  • An exam in which the doctor puts a gloved finger into the man’s rectum to feel the prostate gland. This is known as a digital rectal exam (DRE).
  • A prostate biopsy where a urologist or surgeon removes a tissue sample (usually via a small needle) for further evaluation by a pathologist.

If prostate cancer is diagnosed, your physician will order further imaging tests to better understand your condition and recommend the most effective, individualized course of treatment. Imaging tests are used to determine tumor size and if the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body such as lymph nodes, lungs or bones.

Imaging procedures to diagnose prostate cancer

CT Scan

A computed tomography (CT) scan rapidly generates X-ray images of your anatomy; these images are combined and presented as multi-plane images on a computer that allow for an in-depth clinical evaluation. To aid in prostate cancer diagnosis, Scripps offers the latest CT technology, including several low-dose CT scanners that reduce of radiation exposure and its associated risks.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the most advanced diagnostic tools for clinicians to use in the detection of cancer. It allows physicians to see inside the body without using ionizing radiation.