A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a routine blood test done for men in order to detect prostate problems, such as prostate cancer, by measuring the level of this antigen in a man’s blood. PSA testing is often recommended to be done annually for men who are age 50 and over, or age 40 and over for those who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) who has had prostate cancer.
The prostate is a small, walnut-sized organ in the male reproductive system that is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Its primary function is to produce fluid that makes up part of the semen which nourishes and protects sperm.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, especially over the age of 65. It occurs when cells in the prostate grow abnormally and out of control, instead of dividing in an orderly manner. When this happens, the man’s PSA level tends to increase.
It is common for the prostate gland to enlarge with age, but this can sometimes lead to problems such as pressure on the urethra. This pressure interferes with the passage of urine, resulting in a weak stream. An enlarged prostate may also be a sign of prostate cancer, and a man’s PSA levels can help decipher whether further investigation is warranted by your doctor.
What Is a PSA Test?
A PSA test is used as a prostate cancer screening tool, and it may be recommended to be performed along with a digital rectal exam (DRE) for men who are:
· Aged 50 and over
· Aged 40 and over who are at a higher risk of prostate cancer
· Experiencing difficulty urinating
· Already diagnosed with prostate cancer and require ongoing monitoring
PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. For the PSA test, a blood sample is drawn by your doctor – usually from the arm – and is sent to a laboratory for analysis.
The results are often back within several days, and they are reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood. A majority of men have PSA levels under 4 ng/mL, but men with prostate cancer often have PSA levels which are higher than 4 – although cancer is a possibility at any PSA level, because other factors are also involved.
Does a High PSA Always Indicate Cancer?
No – benign (noncancerous) prostate conditions can also cause a man’s PSA levels to rise. These conditions include benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate, and prostatitis, which is inflammation of the prostate. There is no evidence that prostatitis or BPH leads to prostate cancer, but a man can have one or both of these conditions and develop prostate cancer as well.
Annual Prostate Examination in Phoenix, AZ
Here at Ironwood Urology, we are committed to the efficient evaluation and treatment of men’s health conditions of all kinds – from BPH to prostate cancer to erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, or if prostate cancer runs in your family or you have other risk factors, it is important to be screened at regular intervals to detect any prostate problems and to increase your chances of successful treatment.
To find out more about our services or to schedule an appointment with our experienced urologist Dr. Desi Avila, call us today at (480) 961-2323 or request an appointment now via our online form. We have convenient locations in Phoenix and Gilbert, and we look forward to being your healthcare partner.