Diagnosing prostate and urologic cancers

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, with almost 200,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. every year. And although bladder cancer affects women too, it occurs among men three to four times more often.

Even though a cancer diagnosis is scary, there is good news. Prostate cancer is often slow-growing, meaning it can be detected in time to successfully treat it. Bladder cancer is usually found at an early stage, making it highly treatable.

If you are not diagnosed until a later stage, we offer the latest treatments and clinical trials, even for cancer that has begun to spread beyond the prostate or bladder.

Prostate cancer screening

At The Christ Hospital Health Network, we know that early cancer detection saves lives. Because prostate cancer can be detected early, before you have symptoms, we encourage you to talk to your doctor about screening tests.

You and your doctor should discuss your risk factors for prostate cancer. These include your age, race and family history. He or she will help you decide what type of screening test may be right for you, and when you should start having them.

The two main types of prostate cancer screening tests your care team offers are:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE)—a physical exam that lets your doctor feel the size, shape and texture of your prostate gland.

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test—a lab test that analyzes the levels of PSA in your blood. A higher-than-normal amount of PSA may be a sign of infection, inflammation or cancer.

Prostate and bladder cancer diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you have prostate or bladder cancer, he or she will use one or more tests to confirm a diagnosis. Tests we perform include:

  • Biopsy—a procedure that lets doctors take samples of prostate tissue or bladder cells.

  • Cystoscopy—a test that lets your doctor see inside your bladder using a special tube (cystoscope) with an attached lens.

  • Imaging tests—various radiology procedures take pictures of your prostate or bladder. These include transrectal ultrasound to diagnose prostate cancer, and intravenous pyelogram to look for bladder cancer.

  • Lab tests—urine samples examined in our laboratory check for blood, cancer cells and other substances. Our tests include urine cytology.

Next steps

If you are diagnosed with prostate or bladder cancer, your doctor will need to "stage" it (determine how advanced it is). Your treatments will depend on how slow or aggressive your cancer is, and whether it has already spread.

Learn more about prostate and urologic cancer treatment options at The Christ Hospital Health Network.