Prostate Specific Antigen is often referred to as PSAs. PSA is a protein found in semen, and is produced by prostate cells. The function of these cells is to keep the semen liquid. Small amounts of this protein make their way into the blood, and can tell doctors if there are problems with the prostate.
The PSA is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is only produced by the prostate, so the level in the blood can indicate if there are problems with the functioning of the prostate.
What is a Normal PSA?
Most doctors agree that a normal PSA is between 0 and 4.0 ng/ml for the most common PSA tests. If your doctor uses a different PSA test, the results may be interpreted differently.
PSA is usually high in men with prostate cancer. However, some men may have high PSA in their blood and not have prostate cancer. That is why it is important to be seen by a urologic oncologist with experience in treating this form of cancer.
Why does PSA Rise?
If the prostate cells begin to break down or make more of the protein, they will escape into the blood. This causes the numbers to become elevated, signaling that there may be a problem with prostate function.
When Should I be Tested?
If you are a man over 50 you should have the level of PSA in your blood tested. If you are high risk - meaning you have a family history of urologic cancers-you should be tested at age 40.
What do the Results Mean?
Any PSA test with a result of higher than 4.0 ng/ml usually signals a problem with the amount of PSA in the blood. There is a reason why the PSA level in your blood is higher. However, it does not always mean that you have cancer.
PSA is only one tool for diagnosing prostate cancer. A digital rectal exam and other imaging techniques will be used to confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
How Often Should I be Tested?
We recommend repeating the test annually at your annual physical. However, if your PSA test comes back elevated, your doctor may recommend testing more often.