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J Urol. 2003 Jan;169(1):12-9.

Prostate biopsy: indications and technique.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.



The last decade has seen numerous modifications in the way prostate cancer is diagnosed. We review the current indications for and methods of prostate biopsy.


The English language literature was reviewed regarding major indications for and methods of prostate biopsy. Pertinent peer reviewed articles were collated and analyzed.


The most widely accepted indication for prostate biopsy is a prostate specific antigen (PSA) value of greater than 4.0 ng./ml. However, some investigators advocate prostate biopsy for men with a PSA value in the 2.5 to 4.0 ng./ml. range, believing that use of this parameter results in detection of a greater number of cases of curable disease. Age specific PSA range, percent free PSA and presence of prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia or atypia are all considered to be relative indications for prostate biopsy. The current literature describes a trend toward increasing the number of cores obtained and the sites biopsied beyond those of the standard sextant technique. The additional cores in many series are obtained from more lateral regions of the gland.


Although several criteria are used as indications for initial prostate biopsy, all are based on PSA level and/or abnormal digital rectal examination. Future improvements in currently used prostate cancer markers may result in better selection of cases to biopsy. There is no universally accepted technique of prostate gland biopsy. The current literature supports use of more extensive biopsy techniques to increase the likelihood of prostate cancer detection.

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