Common Questions: The Prostate
What is a biopsy of the prostate gland?
A biopsy of the prostate gland is a sampling of the prostate. Prostate biopsy is generally done under ultrasound guidance, to help distribute sampling to intended regions of the prostate. Prostate biopsy is almost exclusively done for prostate cancer detection.
A prostate biopsy yields tissue cores, such as the unstained core shown in the photo. After retrieval, cores are fixed, typically in formaldehyde, and then placed into cassettes for embedding in paraffin, slicing, and staining prior to pathological evaluation. A biopsy is not a complete representation of a prostate: a positive biopsy means there is prostate cancer, but a negative biopsy may or may mean that there is no cancer. Depending upon assessment of risk, prostate biopsy may be repeated.