Last Updated on July 28, 2022 by Dr. Neeraj Gujar
The PSA test measures the amount of PSA in blood. PSA is a protein made by cells in your prostate (a small gland located under your bladder). PSA is a protein that circulates throughout your body at low levels.
The PSA test can detect levels that are higher than average and is highly sensitive. High levels of PSA could be linked to prostate cancer long before physical symptoms manifest. High levels of PSA could also indicate a non-cancerous condition.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer in men. It is not like non-melanoma or skin cancer. Your doctor will not be able to diagnose you if the PSA test is all that’s available. Your doctor may consider the PSA results when determining if your symptoms are related to cancer or other conditions.
Why Test Is Done?
While all men are at risk for prostate cancer, some populations are more susceptible.
- Older men
- Men with a family history of prostate cancer
To screen for early signs of prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend PSA testing. To check for growths, your doctor may also recommend a digital rectal examination according to the American Cancer Society. To feel your prostate, your doctor will place a gloved finger in your rectum.
Your doctor may also order a PSA test to check for:
- To determine the cause of a prostate abnormality after a physical exam.
- To help you decide when to start treatment if you have been diagnosed with prostate carcinoma
- To monitor your prostate cancer treatment
When Get Tested?
If you are at high risk for prostate cancer like:
- Father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer
- Being African-American. African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer. It is not known why.
- Your age. Men over 50 are more likely to develop prostate cancer.
A PSA test may be offered if you:
- You may experience symptoms like painful or frequent urination and pelvic or back pain.
- If you have been diagnosed with prostate carcinoma, likely, you are already on treatment. You can monitor the results of your treatment with the PSA test.
Also Read: Important Health Tests for People Above 50
How To Get Tested?
Your doctor may request that you undergo a PSA test if they doubt any abnormalities with your prostrate. Make sure they are aware of any prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements that you take. Some drugs can cause falsely low results.
Your doctor may request another test or ask that you stop taking your medicine for several weeks if they think your medication may interfere with the results.
Some activities, such as riding a bike, saddle riding, or recent ejaculation, can falsely raise PSA levels. These activities should be stopped for 48 hours before a PSA test can be performed.
During the Test
A healthcare professional will insert a needle inside your elbow to draw blood from the vein. As the needle is inserted into your vein, you may feel a slight sting or sharp pain.
After they have collected enough blood to take a sample, they will pull the needle out and apply pressure to the area to stop the bleeding. In case you continue to bleed, they will place a bandage on the site.
A laboratory will send your blood sample for analysis and testing. Ask your doctor to follow up on your results or to schedule an appointment for you to discuss them.
After The Test
It is not always easy to get a sample of blood because of the differences in size and depth between veins and arterial walls. Your healthcare professional may need to draw blood from multiple veins on your body to find the sufficient one.
It is rare for complications to occur during routine blood draws. However, some risk includes:
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Excessive bleeding
Although there is no normal PSA, most men diagnosed with prostate carcinoma have a higher level than normal. In general:
4-10% – Borderline Range
Above 10% – Cancer
Above 20% – Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
Also Read: How Do Doctors Use Renal Function Test to Diagnose Kidney Diseases
You may need to have additional tests to determine the reason for elevated PSA levels. PSA levels rising could be due to other reasons than prostate cancer, such as:
- Recent prostate biopsy or surgery
- A recent catheter tube was inserted into your bladder to drain your urine.
- A Urinary Tract Infection
- Prostatitis or inflamed prostate
- Recent sexual intercourse, bike riding, or saddle riding
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia or an enlarged prostate
A PSA test is a useful tool to diagnose and detect prostate cancer. You may also need the following tests:
- A digital rectal exam
- A Free PSA (fPSA test)
- A prostate biopsy
- Multiple PSAs
- Prostate MRI
- PHI or 4k Score
- Final recommendation statement: Prostate cancer: Screening. (2018).
- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test
- Prostate cancer prevention and early detection: Finding prostate cancer early. (2016).
- Prostate cancer statistics. (2018).
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. (2017).