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HealthInfo Canterbury

Prostate biopsy

A prostate biopsy involves taking tiny samples of tissue from your prostate gland. The tissue samples are then examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

Your doctor may organise a prostate biopsy to check for or rule out prostate cancer:

A prostate biopsy is usually safe and has minimal side effects. There's a slight risk of developing an infection from a prostate biopsy, and in rare cases this can be severe. You can have some bleeding after the procedure but this is usually mild and goes away by itself. In very rare cases, life-threatening bleeding can occur.

Before the procedure

When you arrive at your appointment, you'll be given an antibiotic tablet to take. You'll be given a second tablet to take 12 hours after your procedure. The antibiotics will reduce your risk of getting an infection.

During the procedure

Your surgeon will give you a local anaesthetic to make the procedure more comfortable. Most people only experience mild discomfort. The procedure takes about five to 10 minutes.

During the procedure, your surgeon will ask you to lie on your side with your knees pulled to your chest. They'll insert an ultrasound probe, about the size of a finger, into your back passage (bottom). A screen will display images from the ultrasound probe. Your surgeon will use the images as a guide to insert a needle through the probe into your prostate gland. They'll use the needle to take tissue samples.

After the procedure

You must take your antibiotic in the evening after your biopsy.

You should also drink plenty of fluids. You may notice blood in your urine or when you have a bowel motion for up to a week after the biopsy. Drinking more should help this go away. You can also have blood in your semen for up to six weeks after the biopsy.

You should contact your doctor if you have a fever, have difficulty passing urine or don't pass urine, have heavy bleeding with clots, or if your pain gets worse.

You can go back to doing your usual activities the following day.


If you develop signs of an infection (such as a high fever and shaking) after a prostate biopsy, contact the hospital immediately.


A specialist nurse will phone you with the results from your biopsy within two weeks. The results will show whether or not you have prostate cancer. The department will also send a copy of the biopsy results to your GP.

A negative result for prostate cancer

If the biopsy shows you don't have prostate cancer, you won't need any further follow up.

Talk to your GP about whether you'll need to see them for a rectal examination of your prostate and a PSA blood test once a year.

A positive result for prostate cancer

If you have a positive result for cancer, you'll be given an appointment to see a urologist within two weeks. The urologist will go through your results and explain the treatment options.

You'll be invited to attend a presentation about prostate cancer by the urology nurse specialist. This will be on the same day as your appointment with the urologist or the day before. The presentation will be about the treatment options for prostate cancer.

The Prostate Cancer Outcomes Registry – Australia and New Zealand will also contact you. The registry collects data about the diagnosis, treatment and quality of life of men diagnosed with prostate cancer. The registry's goal is to improve the care and outcomes of men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

On the next page: Treating prostate cancer

Uses information written by Urology Associates, Canterbury Urology Research Trust and Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Urology Department, Canterbury DHB. Page created August 2018.


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Review key: HIPRH-45800