Your PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. PSA levels are important, as they can be used as a screening testing tool to determine whether a man has prostate cancer. Before, the PSA level test was only used to monitor men who had a history of prostate cancer, but with today’s technology things have changed.
Prostate-specific antigen is made by cells in the prostate gland, mostly found in semen, but also in blood. Most men have PSA levels under four nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) in their blood. As the PSA level goes up, the chance and risk that a man has of having prostate cancer also increases.
Research has shown that PSA levels alone do not give doctors enough information to decide whether a man has prostate cancer or not, since other factors can also cause a rise in someone’s PSA levels. It is important to remember that there are no such thing as normal or abnormal PSA levels, but the higher the levels are, the more likely a man is to have prostate cancer.
There are other risk factors for prostate cancer, and a PSA level above 4 ng/mL is not indicative of a positive cancer diagnosis. For instance, according to cancer.org, about 15 percent of men that have a PSA level below four will have results of prostate cancer after a biopsy. In other words, when considering whether to do a prostate biopsy to look for cancer, not all doctors use the same guidelines. Some may advise it if the PSA is four or higher, while others might start at a lower level, such as 2.5 or 3.
If your PSA level is high, your doctor will most likely advise you to either wait a little bit and repeat the test, or call for a biopsy on your prostate to find out if you have cancer. A number of other factors can raise PSA levels including:
- An enlarged prostate
- Other urologic conditions (Prostatitis)
The best prevention is early detection and frequent screening. To learn more about prostate cancer and PSA levels, call Ironwood Urology at (480) 961-2323 to request an appointment with Dr. Desi Avila, or request an appointment online.