Here is a very watered down version and I am sure someone who has gone through the procedure will give you better info.
If prostate cancer is suspected, a biopsy is recommended. A prostate needle biopsy is a surgical procedure in which a small sample of tissue is removed from the prostate gland and examined under the microscope by a pathologist, a doctor specializing in identifying disease through the study of cells, tissue and organs.
The procedure takes about 15 minutes and is usually performed in the urologist's office in conjunction with transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), a procedure that uses sound waves to create a video image of the prostate gland. A local anesthetic is routinely used. With the help of TRUS, a doctor guides a biopsy gun — a hand-held device with a spring-loaded, slender needle — through the wall of the rectum into the area of the prostate gland that appears abnormal.
The rectal wall is thin, so it is possible to place the needle more accurately and with less injury to other tissues. When activated, the needle can remove a slender cylinder of tissue (about 1/2" by 1/16"), called a core, in a fraction of a second. Biopsy needles are tiny -- only 1.2 millimeters in diameter and less than 1/2" long -- and very precise. A sliding sheath opens once the needle enters the prostate, closes onto a sample of tissue and the needle is withdrawn.
I hope that helps answer part of your question.
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