3 Things Men Should Know About PSA Tests
Like a mammogram or colonoscopy, which can detect breast or colon cancer, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test can detect prostate cancer early. A PSA is a protein that is produced by the prostate and can be found within your blood. While this test is slightly controversial, it is an important aspect to detecting prostate cancer at an early stage. Learn what you should know about the PSA test.
When having a PSA test, having a low PSA score (usually about 4 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less) generally indicates that a man does not have prostate cancer. Higher levels, on the other hand, may indicate that you have prostate cancer. Please note that PSA levels naturally rise with age.
However, many factors can affect the results of a PSA test; this alone is not enough to diagnose prostate cancer. If your PSA scores are high, your physician will probably order additional testing to determine if you have cancer, and if so, the stage.
PSA scores are not the only factor when diagnosing prostate cancer. A PSA score can be elevated for other reasons and show a false positive. Other factors that will be considered are your race, age and family history. If it is determined that you are at low-risk for prostate cancer, your physician may perform a digital rectal exam (DRE) or ask that you take another PSA test in a few months. If you are at a high risk for prostate cancer, a biopsy may be ordered.
According to the American Urological Association, men should have a PSA screening between the ages of 55-69, and earlier if you have a positive family history of prostate cancer.
If you are concerned about prostate cancer, be sure to talk to your physician and determine if the PSA test would be appropriate for you.