Prostate cancer is often diagnosed using an biopsy of the tissue in your prostate. The most common way is to use an ultrasound scanner to study the prostate by allowing the doctor to send a needle to take a small sample of you prostate cells. This is known to be uncomfortable, and because of this sometimes a local anaesthetic is used. Like any tests, biopsies are not always 100% accurate. If symptoms continue after a test then patients should always go back to their doctor or GP.
Once the samples of your prostate have been examined, if cancer cells are detected a grade known as the Gleason grade is given. This rates the chance of the prostate cancer spreading, with the lower the score the better.
A score of prostate cancer Gleason 6 or lower means that the cancer has a good chance of not spreading further. If this score is given, your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action, although the ultimate decision for treatment always rests with the patient.
A Gleason score of 7 means the cancer has a medium chance of spreading, while a score of 8 indicates there is a high chance of spreading.
With higher Gleason scores especially, if the doctor feels the chances the cancer has already spread then further tests may be required to find whether this is the case. Again the patient will always be able to make the decision as to whether they want further testing.