Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is primarily a protein that is produced by the prostate. The protein, produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate, is found in semen and the blood. Many men are at risk of prostate cancer and a PSA blood test can help in early detection.
Most prostates grow slowly. Thus, early detection might help in saving lives –however, in many cases; it results in radiation treatments and surgeries. Such treatments can have lifelong repercussions such as male incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Before you decide to take a PSA test, keep in mind the following:
Low PSA Is Healthy
If your PSA result is lower than four nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood it indicates that you do not have prostate cancer. Higher levels of PSA may indicate prostate cancer depending on age and race.
Multiple factors have an impact on PSA. Thus, the results of a PSA test are not enough to diagnose cancer. If your PSA test results are high, the doctor may suggest other tests or prostate biopsy to determine the presence of cancer.
Factors Affecting PSA Levels
Swelling in the prostate gland, ejaculation or infection are primary factors that can result in high PSA levels. They have no relation to prostate cancer. Enlarged prostate and benign prostatic hyperplasia are common issues experienced by men as they age and both conditions can result in high PSA levels.
If your PSA levels are high, a medical professional may diagnose and treat other persisting issues such as a possible infection. After the treatment, the test will be done again to check if the levels have gone down.
Monitoring Other Risk Factors
If your PSA levels are on the rise, doctors will look at other risk factors and determine if you need further testing. The primary risk factors are:
● Race: Black men are thought to be more vulnerable to prostate cancer than Hispanic men or white men.
● Medical history: Men who have a family history of prostate cancer are at an increased risk.
● Age: Also a catalyst. Older men are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
If your PSA test results are low, you have no underlying risk factors and a digital rectal examination does not reveal any abnormality, your doctor may not suggest a prostate biopsy. The doctor may suggest another PSA test in a few months to monitor any changes in PSA levels.
PSA Tests Are Not The Ultimate Indicator
A biopsy is a medical procedure where a sample of the prostate tissue is collected through a hollow needle. Through an ultrasound, the needle is pricked in the anus to extract a tissue. According to a study, at least three out of every four men with high PSA are declared cancer free after a biopsy.