The PSA test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA (prostate specific antigen) in your blood. The epithelial cells in the prostate gland produce a protein called PSA (prostate-specific antigen). The PSA plays an important role in keeping the semen in its liquid state.A high PSA level may indicate that you have prostate cancer or some kind of prostate situation.
However, other situations which are not cancer may be enlargement of the prostate, prostatitis, or urinary infection which causes higher PSA levels in the blood. About 4 out of 5 men with a high PSA level will not have prostate cancer. The PSA test can also miss cancer.
What is a PSA test?A PSA test involves giving a blood sample. If the level of PSA in your blood is high, this may indicate you have prostate cancer. But sometimes it happens that a PSA test can also miss cancer. A single test is not reliable and extra tests may provide important information.
Most men have PSA levels under four nanograms of PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) and this has traditionally been used as the cutoff for concern about the risk of prostate cancer. Men with prostate cancer often have PSA levels higher than four, although cancer is a possibility at any PSA level. According to research, men who have PSA less than four have a 15% chance of having prostate cancer.
Those with a PSA between four and 10 have a 25% chance of having prostate cancer and if the PSA is higher than 10, the risk increases and can be as high as 70%.What happens after a PSA test? You may usually have the following options after a PSA test:
- If your PSA level is not increased, you are unlikely to have cancer and no immediate further action is required but you may further undergo tests to confirm the result.
- If your PSA level is slightly increased, you probably do not have cancer, but you may undergo more PSA tests to confirm the result.
- If your PSA level is definitely increased, consult a specialist for further tests to confirm if you have prostate cancer or not. A prostate biopsy is recommended to check if you have cancer. In this procedure a transrectal ultrasound guides needles used to take tissue samples of the prostate. Examining tissues from a biopsy under a microscope can help diagnose or rule out prostate cancer.
Sometimes the biopsy may lead to complications such as blood in the semen, urine or infection. However, biopsies can also miss cancers and you may not know for sure that you do not have cancer after a clear result.The benefits of PSA testing:
- It may reassure you if the test result is normal.
- It gives you an indication of cancer before it develops and start spreading.
- It may find cancer at an early stage and helps to decide a proper line of treatment.
- If treatment is successful, the worst possible outcomes of more advanced cancer, including death and other complications are avoided.
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