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Diagnosis

Wilmot Cancer Institute provides the full spectrum of prostate cancer care, from initial diagnosis and treatment to recovery and rehabilitation. Prostate malignancies are in a group known as genitourinary (GU) cancers, and Wilmot offers the most comprehensive, advanced care for GU cancer in the Finger Lakes region. Wilmot also has a widely respected research program in Urology and GU cancers — focusing on the treatment of more aggressive, resistant prostate cancers.

We work in multidisciplinary teams. "Multidisciplinary" means that our care providers include experts with a variety of specialties: surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, nurse practitioners, social workers, and clinical researchers. They work together on your case to provide the most personalized care possible.

We also offer pathologists who specialize in urology, for greater expertise in diagnosing and staging prostate cancer.

Symptoms

The following symptoms could be signs that you have prostate cancer:

  • Urine flow is weak or interrupted
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty with urination
  • Inability to urinate
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Recurrent pain in the back, hips or pelvis
  • Difficulty having an erection

Symptoms like these are not always an indication of prostate cancer. An enlarged prostate can also obstruct urine flow or cause sexual dysfunction. This condition can be treated with surgery or medication to reduce symptoms.

Screening

For men ages 50 and older who don't have symptoms, it's important to have regular prostate exams. Two screening tests are commonly used: the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which tests the amount of PSA in the blood, and a digital rectal exam (DRE). If either of these results is abnormal, further testing is needed.

The PSA test has been controversial in recent years. Although it can find prostate cancer early, some experts have raised questions about whether it saves lives or leads to unnecessary treatment. Our scientists have published research showing that eliminating the PSA test — as the U.S. Preventive Services task force has suggested — would result in many more cases of advanced cancer at the time of diagnosis, and other independent researchers have confirmed our observations. The Wilmot study concluded that PSA awareness and widespread screening during the past 20 years has resulted in finding the cancer at earlier stages, when it’s often curable. Men should discuss the pros and cons of PSA screening with their doctors and make an informed decision.

DIGITAL RECTAL EXAMINATION (DRE)

Your doctor will use a lubricated finger to feel the prostate gland through the rectum. Men should typically begin having yearly DREs, beginning at age 50. High risk groups, such as African-Americans and those with family history of prostate disease, should ask their doctors about starting these exams at a younger age.

PROSTATE-SPECIFIC ANTIGEN (PSA)

When a man has prostate cancer, he may also have higher levels of prostate-specific antigen. Through a blood test, your doctor can determine if your levels of PSA are high. A PSA test may be recommended by your doctor if you are a man over 50 or if you are in a high-risk group.

If a DRE or PSA test suggests you may have prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend one of the following tests for further diagnosis:

TRANSRECTAL ULTRASOUND/BIOPSY

In this test, sound waves are used to create an image of your prostate gland. This image may also be used to guide a surgeon in performing a biopsy.

COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY (CT)

A CT scan uses x-rays to create highly detailed images of your prostate gland. In patients who have already been diagnosed, a CT scan may be used to determine the stage of the cancer.

RADIONUCLIDE BONE SCAN

This nuclear imaging technology can show whether the disease has spread to bone cells.

URONAV FUSION BIOPSY SYSTEM

UroNav can help determine if certain lesions on the prostate are cancerous. By fusing MR and ultrasound images, it allows your surgeon to precisely target cells within those lesions.