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What Should I Expect From a Prostate Biopsy?

A patient in a doctor's office

A prostate biopsy may be recommended if the results of a digital rectal examination (DRE) or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test suggest that prostate cancer may be present. The most common approach for performing this diagnostic test is transrectal, in which a needle is carefully passed through the wall of the rectum to retrieve a prostate tissue sample.

What to expect during a prostate biopsy

If a transrectal prostate biopsy is recommended for you, here’s what you can expect:

  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach or on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest.
  • After cleansing the area and applying a gel, a physician will gently guide a thin ultrasound probe into your rectum.
  • Using the probe, the physician will generate sound waves that will be used to create detailed images of your prostate.
  • Guided by the resulting ultrasound images, the physician will numb the appropriate area and then place a spring-propelled prostate biopsy needle in the proper position.
  • Once the area has become numb, the physician will use the needle to obtain several thin, cylindrical sections of prostate tissue for evaluation under a microscope.
  • Each time the needle retrieves a tissue sample, you may experience a brief pinching sensation.
  • The entire procedure will likely take about 10 minutes to complete.

What to expect after a prostate biopsy

After your procedure, you may have mild tenderness and see some light bleeding from your rectum. You may also see a small amount of blood in your urine, stool and semen. You may be advised to avoid intensive activities for 24-48 hours, and you should call your physician right away if you experience difficulty urinating, worsening pain or heavy bleeding.

Medically reviewed by Monica Chatwal, MD.

Moffitt Cancer Center offers prostate biopsy services as well as a full range of other diagnostic tests for prostate cancer. Our Genitourinary Oncology Program accepts new patients with or without referrals. To request an appointment with an oncologist, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.