A sketch of a MRI machine is next to a biopsy needle.

My Prostate Biopsy Story

A biopsy is a check to test whether you have prostate cancer or not. Perhaps you’ve been told you may need this procedure and would like to know what happens. This is my story.

Feeling nervous about a biopsy?

If you’re having a biopsy, you may be nervous for two very good reasons.

  • The medics think there is a chance you have prostate cancer
  • It’s a procedure that can hurt for some1

For reason one, I’m unable to offer much comfort. You may have had digital exams, PSA tests, and more. The biopsy is there to confirm whether there is cancer located in your prostate.

As to reason two, I can at least offer a little comfort. It is a relatively quick procedure, and while being invasive and unpleasant for me, it was not too terrible and only hurt a little.

What happened to me

Getting prepared

I’d recently had an MRI scan and been called back to the hospital where the urologist wanted to share and explain the results. These appeared to indicate that I did have prostate cancer, but a biopsy was the only way to be sure.

While showing me the MRI pictures the doctor told me he would be performing a biopsy, and it was happening in about 30 minutes. I’d known this procedure was likely but hadn’t realized it was going to happen so fast.

The operation was conducted under local anesthetic, meaning I was awake the whole time. The area close to my prostate was numbed to minimize discomfort. The doctor used pictures from my MRI scan as an initial guide as to where to take the tissue samples.

Undergoing the biopsy

If you read the literature, you will see that patients may lie on their side with their knees drawn up to their chest with hips raised. Not for me. I was placed in what looked like an elevated barber’s chair with my legs raised and my knees apart.

To get a clearer picture, an ultrasound probe was pushed into my rectum. That enabled the doctor to see the samples were being taken from the correct areas.

A thin spring-loaded needle was then inserted into my prostate gland. Around 15 samples were collected from different locations. Each sample was taken by quickly inserting and withdrawing the needle. I remember many clicking sounds as the samples were taken. This hurt a little. The nurses kept asking me on a scale of one to ten how painful it was. I replied: "Am I reviewing this for TripAdvisor?" No one laughed.

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The whole operation took about thirty minutes. Thereafter I was told to go sit and wait. I assume they were monitoring to check I didn’t keel over. Following that, I was then sent home and told to drink plenty of water.

A nurse warned there might be some discomfort (there wasn’t) and to take paracetamol if necessary. I was also warned there might be blood in my urine (there was, but very little).

To cut to the chase my pathology report revealed I did indeed have prostate cancer. My Gleason score was: 4+3 = 7. The maximum cancer length was 10mm. Fortunately the cancer was still largely contained within my prostate.

Looking back now

I’ve tried to make this description as factually accurate as possible, but I’m no doctor and obviously I couldn’t see precisely what was going on. It was not a pleasant experience, and the outcome left a lot to be desired, but it was all over quickly without too much pain.

A biopsy may be something you have to endure and if so, I hope my story has given you a little insight as to what to expect. Best wishes and good luck.

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