Know About Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in blood. It is important to understand what PSA is.

Prostate Specific Antigen or PSA is a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. It is normal for all men to have a small amount of PSA in their blood, and this amount rises as you get older. A raised PSA level may suggest you have a problem with your prostate, but not necessarily cancer.

What can PSA test suggest?

A raised PSA level can be a sign of a problem with prostate. This could be

  1. An enlarged prostate
  2. Inflammation or infection of the prostate called prostatitis
  3. Prostate cancer

What conditions can cause raised PSA level?

There are many causes which contributes to elevated Prostate Specific Antigens.

  1. Urine infection: So it suggested that if anyone has urine infection then your will need to wait until the infection has cleared up-around four to six weeks.
  2. Vigorous exercise: vigorous exercise especially cycling, in the 48 hours before PSA test can result in raised PSA level.
  3. Any sexual activity 48 hours before a PSA test, can raise PSA level but this is just temporary rise.
  4. If any prostate biopsy is done in the six weeks before a PSA test, this could raise PSA level.
  5. Some medicines like 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors to treat an enlarged prostate, such as finasteride (Proscar) or dutasteride (Avodart) can reduce PSA level.
  6. If catheter is inserted for operations on bladder or prostate this could raise PSA level.

PSA test and prostate cancer

  • A raised PSA level can be a sign of prostate cancer. But many men with a raised PSA level don’t have prostate cancer. And some men with a normal PSA level do have prostate cancer.
  • Prostate cancer can be seen in people: Aged 50 or over
  • Have a genetic disposition like if father or brother has had it.

What actually happens in PSA test?

A sample of blood is taken and sent to a laboratory to be tested. The amount of PSA in blood is measured in Nano grams per milliliter of blood.

What will the test results tell?

  • A PSA test alone can’t tell whether a person has prostate cancer, as other things can affect PSA level.
  • It’s normal to have a small amount of PSA in blood, and the amount rises as a person gets older.

A normal PSA level is less than:

Age (Years) Range (ng/mL)

  1. 40 to 49 0 to 2.0
  2. 50 to 59 0 to 3.0
  3. 60 to 69 0 to 4.0
  4. 70 to 79 0 to 5.5

A very high PSA level normally means that a man has prostate cancer. But if PSA level is only slightly high for age, then other tests are necessary to find out if there is a problem.

Advantage of PSA Test

  1. A PSA test can help pick up prostate cancer before any symptom.
  2. A PSA test may help to pick up a fast-growing cancer at an early stage when treatment may stop the cancer spreading and causing problems.
  3. Slow-growing prostate cancer might not need treatment. It may just need regular check-ups, including PSA tests, to keep an eye on cancer. This can avoid or delay the side effects of treatment.
  4. Having regular PSA tests could be helpful for men who are more at risk of prostate cancer. This can help spot any changes in PSA level, which might be a sign of prostate cancer.

Disadvantages of PSA Test

  1. It may also happen that a person has raised PSA level, even if he does ‘not have prostate cancer. Many people have a raised PSA level even they don’t have prostate cancer.
  2. If anyone has raised PSA level it may further tests, including a biopsy. The biopsy has some risks, such as pain, infection and blood in the urine and semen.
  3. Sometimes persons with prostate cancer can also have normal PSA level.

PSA testing often leads to further testing and treatment. If a person has abnormal PSA test most doctors will recommend a prostate biopsy. This is a simple procedure which a involves removing a small piece of prostate with a thin needle.

What happens if the PSA is high?

There are usually three main possibilities after a PSA test:

  1. PSA level is not raised: no immediate further action is needed.
  2. If PSA level is slightly raised: Some further tests, including follow-up of PSA is needed.
  3. PSA is definitely raised: specialist advice in needed.

In India, the cost of PSA test is about Rs.600.

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