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Tests to Determine Prostate Cancer Stage

Aside from predictive tools to predict pathological state, such as the Kattan nomogram or the Partin Tables, the following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process for prostate cancer:

Radionuclide Bone Scan

A procedure to check if there are rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells, in the bone. A very small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein and travels through the bloodstream. The radioactive material collects in the bones and is detected by a scanner.

CT Scan

A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. As long as you have good kidney function, dye will be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.

Endorectal MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI). Precise assessment of the prostate anatomy and tissue surrounding the prostate can be made. The information of tumor extent can help the surgeon decide the degree of nerve sparing, especially if there is suspicion of tumor growing outside the capsule.

Pelvic Lymphadenectomy (Lymph Node Dissection)

A surgical procedure to remove the lymph nodes in the pelvis. This is performed as the first step at the time of radical prostatectomy surgery. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells. Approximately 8-20 lymph nodes are sampled. This generally adds approximately 30-45 minutes to the surgery time.

The results of these tests are viewed together with the results of the original tumor biopsy to determine the prostate cancer stage.  Go to Staging Prostate Cancer using the TNM System for more information.