PSA stands for prostate specific antigen, which is a protein produced by the prostate gland. The level of PSA in the blood stream can help identify any chances of prostate cancer early on, thus allowing you to adopt preventive measures in time. Here are 10 things you should know about PSA tests:
PSA in low numbers
Up to 4 nano-grams of PSA per milliliter of blood is generally considered to be normal. However, these numbers vary depending on the age and race of the patient. Higher levels of PSA are a fair indicator of presence of cancer.
Risk of false positives
The results of the PSA tests aren’t conclusive, as the level of PSA in the blood stream can be affected by a number of factors such as recent ejaculation, infection, etc, which will result in false positives.
PSA is not conclusive
The doctors usually monitor the PSA levels over a period of time, and do further tests to confirm the prostate cancer diagnosis. Once the PSA levels are deemed to be high for an extended period of time, the doctors opt for a biopsy for testing.
Don’t test until you show symptoms?
The PSA tests were regularly administered to men over the age of 50 as a part of their routine check until a few years ago. However, many doctors continue to debate the necessity of this test, owing to a number of factors, and it is generally only given to patients who show symptoms of prostate cancer.
Skip it if you are over 75 and healthy
After the age of 75, men are more likely to outlive prostate cancer, and getting a PSA done at this point seems worthless, especially if you are healthy. Hence the ACS guidelines states that the PSA testing ought to be done in men who are expected to live at least another 10 years.
What not to do before a PSA test
Any activity that stimulates the prostate, such as riding a bike/ motorcycle, getting a prostatic massage etc is discouraged. You shouldn’t indulge in any sexual activity that involves ejaculation for up to 48 hours before the PSA tests in order to ensure an accurate PSA results.
DRE before a PSA
The digital rectal examination is usually done before the PSA tests. Here, the doctor or the nurse will check for any inflammation of the prostate manually. The doctor will only recommend a PSA test if the prostate seems to be inflamed.
Supplements, drugs and PSA
Chemotherapy drugs can elevate the PSA levels, which can result in a false positive. Medication such as anti-inflammatory drugs and urinary infection treatments can also affect the PSA levels.
Monitoring the rising levels of PSA
Doctors resort to monitoring the rate of changing PSA levels to determine the risk of cancer. This reduces the risk of false positives greatly and ensures that you are not plagued by the idea of having colon cancer before definitive tests are made.
It is your call!
Getting a PSA test done is completely your decision. You can make an educated decision of opting for a screening, based on the risks and side effects involved.
- Harding, A. (2017). 12 Things Men Must Know About PSA Tests. Retrieved May 01, 2017, from www.health.com: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20545215,00.html/view-all
- KUZMA, C. (2016, October 04). Should You Really Get a PSA Test to Screen For Prostate Cancer? Retrieved May 01, 2017, from www.menshealth.com: http://www.menshealth.com/health/psa-testing
- What Not to Do Before a PSA Test. (2011, February 07). Retrieved May 01, 2017, from www.prostate.net: http://prostate.net/articles/what-not-to-do-before-a-psa-test