What Are Some Alternatives to Prostate Biopsy?

Updated July 19, 2017

Prostate biopsy is an invasive surgical procedure commonly used to diagnose the presence of prostate cancer in patients showing symptoms of potential prostatic tumours. Prostate biopsies are risky and, in many cases, aren't necessary. According to the American Urological Association, prostate biopsy "commonly causes a vast variety of complications," ranging from pain and discomfort to rectal bleeding and severe infection. In another study by Oregon Health and Science University, 92 per cent of men given prostate biopsies "were found to have no cancer or low to moderate cancer." Men thinking of undergoing a prostate biopsy may want to first consider one of the safer, noninvasive alternatives.

CT Scan

Computer Tomography (CT) scans, which provide three-dimensional images of internal organs by combining many two-dimensional X-rays on a rotating axis, are typically not detailed or powerful enough to identify prostatic cancer cells in their early stages of growth. CAT scans are largely ineffective for diagnosing and monitoring prostate cancer, but they are useful for helping to rule out other possible diseases or injuries that cause similar symptoms as prostate cancer.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) produces much more detailed and high-contrast views of internal bodily functions than CAT scans, making it an especially effective tool for identifying oncological (cancer-related) problems. Not only are MRIs noninvasive, they do not require exposure to radiation. MRI test results can be detailed enough to confirm the presence of prostate cancer without the need for a biopsy, especially when used along with other diagnostic tools like PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) tests, CAT scans and ultrasounds.

Power Color Doppler Sonogram

Power Color Doppler Sonograms, also commonly known as Power Color Doppler Ultrasounds or Repeat Sonograms are painless, safe and relatively cheap to perform. They offer patients a powerful screening method that can be repeated to monitor recovery progress with minimal discomfort. The high resolution and vivid colour images provide more detailed test results than MRIs, CAT scans or more traditional ultrasound techniques, and often at a lower cost.

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About the Author

Nolan Foster has been writing professionally since 2002. He is an experienced writing tutor, member of the International English Honors Society and a Norton Scholar’s Prize nominee. His work has been published in "The Lantern" and "The Next American City." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with history and creative writing minors from Ursinus College.