The Male Prostate-Specific-Antigen-Test...

...What You Need To Know

Article Written By Doctor David Dangerfield

PSA

The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test is used to measure the level of prostate-specific-antigen in a man's blood. Prostate-specific-antigen is released into the blood through the prostate gland. Men that are healthy have low levels of PSA present in their blood.

The levels of PSA inside the blood typically increase as the prostate starts to increase in size with age. Prostate-specific-antigen can increase due to prostatitis which is when the prostate gland becomes inflamed or from prostate cancer.

Digital rectal examinations, an injury or ejaculation can also raise PSA levels briefly.

 

Why Is A PSA Test Done?

A PSA test is done for the following reasons:
  • A way to screen men to detect prostate cancer. Due to the fact that other medical conditions like prostatitis and BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia can also result in an increase in PSA levels, A prostate biopsy may be required by a physician when they are concerned about symptoms associated with prostate cancer.
  • To check whether cancer may be present if results from other types of tests like digital-rectal examinations come up abnormal. PSA tests are unable to diagnose cancer, yet it is used with other testing's to find out if there is cancer present.
  • The PSA test is also used to detect if PSA levels are increasing, which means that cancer could be spreading or growing. PSA is typically not present in the blood of a patient who no longer has his prostate gland. PSA levels that rise once the prostate has been removed can mean that cancer has spread or returned.
Male Blood Test For PSA
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Preparing For A PSA Test

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Before the PSA test it is advisable to let your physician know when you have had any of the following:

  • You have recently had a cystoscopy which is a test that examines the bladder
  • You have undergone prostate surgery or a prostate-needle biopsy in the last month or so
  • You have recently undergone a digital-rectal examination
  • You have a UTI (urinary tract infection) or prostate infection which is still present
  • You have had a catheter recently inserted into the bladder to drain out your urine

24 hours prior to your test you need to avoid ejaculating. You should also talk to your physician about any concerns about why you feel the need for this test as well as how the test will be conducted and if there are any risks involved.

1. How is This Test Done?

A health professional will take a sample of blood from your arm. This sample is taken directly from a vein inside your arm.

2. Results Of the Test

The PSA test is used to measure the levels of prostate-specific antigen in your blood. The normal values will vary in range from one lab to the next and often have different ranges on what is considered to be normal. 

The lab report that you receive should state the range that the lab uses. Due to the fact that PSA levels usually increase as a man gets older, an age-specific range is often used. However, the age-specific ranges have been regarded as controversial, with some doctors that prefer to use a single range regardless of age.

A high level of PSA is not always an indication of prostate cancer. PSA amounts are often higher when the prostate becomes enlarged due to BPH or prostatitis. When high levels are detected follow-up tests are usually conducted to measure for free PSA to find out whether a prostate biopsy is necessary to detect cancer. The free PSA is a percentage of the PSA which is not linked or attached to the proteins present in the blood. The lower the free PSA percentage, the more likely that prostate cancer is present.

Blood Pressure Test

What Can Affect The Test

Reasons when you are unable to have a PSA test done or reasons as to why the results may be inaccurate will include some of the following:

  • Recent sexual activities that have resulted in ejaculation
  • Recent prostatitis or UTI (urinary tract infection)
  • A recent cystoscopy or the use of a catheter in order to drain your urine
  • Recent prostate surgery, prostate biopsy or a digital rectal examination
  • A large dose of medication like Cytoxan or methotrexate used in cancer treatments
  • Medication such as finasteride and dutasteride used to avoid the progression of enlargement of a prostate gland in a man that has BPH or a finasteride type known as Propecia which is used to treat male-pattern baldness

Further Considerations

In combination with the digital rectal examination, the PSA test is able to improve the likelihood of detecting prostate cancer. In addition, PSA levels that result in a normal range is not always a guarantee that there is no cancer present in the prostate gland. In some men, prostate cancer is present even when the PSA levels are normal.

Experts sometimes disagree about the testing type that is regarded as appropriate when a PSA level happens to be high. Today, there are other tests under evaluation to decide their effectiveness on telling the differences between benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. 

One of these tests is the PSAD (prostate-specific antigen density) test that compares the PSA value in comparison to the prostate gland size. Prostate gland size is usually measured using a TRUS (transrectal ultrasound)

How Accurate Is This Test?

A limitation present in the PSA test is the fact that PSA is not limited to the presence of prostate cancer and is affected by a number of other common conditions.

the Cancer Institute also has information on this matter which you can find here.

You can also check out webbed for more info on the PSA test by going here

Us here at Urologist Hope that you have learned something from this article. We put time and effort into making sure that our website visitors and patients stay well educated. Because we believe that knowledge is the best defense against any type of Urological illness, and even better than that, is prevention. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions Monday - Friday. Our trained staff and expert urologists would be more than happy to assist you. So call us on (03) 8593 7380 or visit us at 243 New Street, Brighton Melbourne VIC 3186

Please stay tuned for our upcoming articles, and until next time!

 

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