What Is Psa Velocity And Psa Doubling Time
Change in PSA levels over time can be used to assess both cancer risk and aggressiveness of the particular tumor. Most urologists use these PSA metrics to help drive patient counseling and care.
- PSA velocity is defined as the rate of change in PSA over time.
- PSA doubling time is the time it takes the PSA value to increase by 100% .
Although these two measures do not appear to be useful in determining who is at risk for prostate cancer, they do appear to be useful in monitoring some individuals with prostate cancer.
What Are The Risks Of A Psa Test
Drawing blood is considered safe. However, because veins and arteries vary in size and depth, getting a blood sample isnt always simple.
The healthcare professional who draws your blood may have to try several veins in multiple locations on your body before they find one that allows them to get enough blood.
Complications from a routine blood draw are uncommon. However, there are some other risks to be aware of. These include risk of:
- an infection at the puncture site
- a hematoma, or blood collected under the skin, at the puncture site
A PSA test can also produce false-positive results, which creates some controversy around it. Your doctor may then suspect you have prostate cancer and recommend a prostate biopsy when you dont actually have cancer. However elevated PSA does not mean a patient will go directly to biopsy. Many medical professionals use additional blood testing, like PHI or 4K tests, or prostate MRI to better qualify the PSA importance before moving to biopsy.
If your PSA levels are elevated, youll likely need additional tests to learn the cause. Other than prostate cancer, possible reasons for a rise in PSA include:
- a recent insertion of a catheter tube into your bladder to help drain urine
- recent prostate biopsy or prostate surgery
Factors That Affect Psa Levels
It is important to note that PSA levels can rise naturally with age, and that a number of benign conditions can also affect PSA levels, such as prostatitis , benign prostatic hyperplasia , urinary tract infection , or even injury to the prostate.
Other factors such as sexual activity right before testing, certain exercises, or even diet can impact the PSA levels as well. It is essential to consult a doctor regarding the meaning and next steps of your PSA testing results.
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Screening Tests For Prostate Cancer
Screening is testing to find cancer in people before they have symptoms. Its not clear, however, if the benefits of prostate cancer screening outweigh the risks for most men. Still, after discussing the pros and cons of screening with their doctors, some men might reasonably choose to be screened.
The screening tests discussed here are used to look for possible signs of prostate cancer. But these tests cant tell for sure if you have cancer. If the result of one of these tests is abnormal, you will probably need a prostate biopsy to know for sure if you have cancer.
How Is The Psa Count Measured
PSA is measured by a simple blood test that does not require fasting or special preparation. Since the amount of PSA in the blood is very low, detection of it requires a very sensitive type of technology . The PSA protein can exist in the blood by itself or be bound with other substances .
PSA is mostly bound to three substances: alpha-2-macroglobulin, alpha 1-antichymotrypsin , and albumin. Total PSA is the sum of the free and the bound forms. The total PSA is what is measured with the standard PSA test.
More recently, a precursor of PSA, proenzyme PSA , has been identified, which may be helpful in determining prostate cancer risk in men with a PSA under 10 and a normal digital rectal examination. The prostate health index is a new approved test that measures the total PSA, free PSA, and proenzyme PSA. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines include use of PHI as a secondary test option for men making decisions about an initial or repeat biopsy.
The 4K score test is another test that incorporates PSA. The 4K score uses a prediction model based on clinical variables and laboratory measurements of total PSA, free PSA, intact PSA, and a related protein known as hK2 .
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Production In Benign Hyperplasia
The majority of PSA is produced by the glands in the transitional zone of the prostate. This portion of the prostate is associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia . The peripheral zone, where 80% of prostate cancers originate, produces very little PSA.
The Hybritech monoclonal assay produced a measurement of 0.5 Â± 0.4 ng/mL. Using the monoclonal assay, Lee et al calculated a serum PSA elevation of 0.12 ng/mL per gram of benign prostatic tissue.
Repeating The Psa Test
A mans blood PSA level can vary over time , so some doctors recommend repeating the test after a month or so if the initial PSA result is abnormal. This is most likely to be a reasonable option if the PSA level is on the lower end of the borderline range . For higher PSA levels, doctors are more likely to recommend getting other tests, or going straight to a prostate biopsy.
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When Should I Get A Psa Test
The guidelines below are adapted from the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines In Oncology for Prostate Cancer Early Detection. Please use these guidelines to have a discussion with your physician about your personal risk and make a plan for screening.
- If you are between ages 45 and 75:
- Discuss the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening with your doctor, have a baseline PSA, and consider a baseline DRE
- If your PSA is below 1 ng/mL and your DRE is normal, repeat testing every 2-4 years
- If your PSA is between 1 and 3 ng/mL and your DRE is normal, repeat testing every 1-2 years
- If your PSA is greater than 3 ng/ML or your DRE is very suspicious, your doctor may suggest additional testing or a biopsy
Psa In Other Biologic Fluids And Tissues
Concentration of PSA in human body fluids
|female serum||0.01 – 0.53|
It is now clear that the term prostate-specific antigen is a misnomer: it is an antigen but is not specific to the prostate. Although present in large amounts in prostatic tissue and semen, it has been detected in other body fluids and tissues.
In women, PSA is found in female ejaculate at concentrations roughly equal to that found in male semen. Other than semen and female ejaculate, the greatest concentrations of PSA in biological fluids are detected in breast milk and amniotic fluid. Low concentrations of PSA have been identified in the urethral glands, endometrium, normal breast tissue and salivary gland tissue. PSA also is found in the serum of women with breast, lung, or uterine cancer and in some patients with renal cancer.
Tissue samples can be stained for the presence of PSA in order to determine the origin of malignant cells that have metastasized.
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Prostate Cancer Screening Ages 55 To 69
This is the age range where men will benefit the most from screening.Thats because this is the time when:
- Men are most likely to get cancer
- Treatment makes the most sense, meaning when treatment benefits outweigh any potential risk of treatment side effects
Most men will get prostate cancer if they live long enough. Some prostatecancers are more aggressive others can be slow-growing. Doctors will takeyour age and other factors into consideration before weighing the risks andbenefits of treatment.
You should ask your doctor how often he or she recommends you get screened.For most men, every two to three years is enough.
Depending on the results of your first PSA test, your doctor may recommendyou get screened less frequently.
Controversy About The Psa Test
PSA tests are controversial because doctors and experts arent sure if the benefits of early detection outweigh the risks of misdiagnosis. Its also not clear if the screening test actually saves lives.
Because the test is very sensitive and can detect increased PSA numbers at low concentrations, it may detect cancer thats so small it would never become life threatening. Just the same, most primary care physicians and urologists do choose to order the PSA as a screening test in men over the age of 50.
This is called overdiagnosis. More men may face complications and risks of side effects from the treatment of a small growth than they would if their cancer was left undiagnosed.
Its doubtful those small cancers would ever cause major symptoms and complications because prostate cancer, in most but not all cases, is a very slow-growing cancer.
Theres also no specific level of PSA thats considered normal for all men. In the past, doctors considered a PSA level of 4.0 nanograms per milliliter or lower to be normal, reports the National Cancer Institute .
However, recent research has shown that some men with lower levels of PSA have prostate cancer and many men with higher levels of PSA dont have cancer. Prostatitis, urinary tract infections, certain medications, and other factors can also cause your PSA levels to fluctuate.
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What Causes A Raised Psa Level
A raised PSA level may mean you have prostate cancer but about two out of three men with a raised PSA level will not have prostate cancer.
Other conditions may also cause a raised PSA level, including:
- Transurethral resection of the prostate operation. TURP is a prostate operation used if you have benign enlargement of the prostate.
- If you have a tube to help pass urine
The Benefits Of A Psa Test
A PSA test is a simple, non-invasive blood test to screen for cancer. The results can help your doctor determine whether you need further testing, such as a biopsy, Digital Rectal Exam or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan.
Early detection of cancer is important, as it can be treated more successfully before it spreads to other areas of the body and causes serious symptoms. Early treatment reduces the risk of side effects that greatly impact a mans quality of life, such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence.
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If Screening Test Results Arent Normal
If you are screened for prostate cancer and your initial blood PSA level is higher than normal, it doesnt always mean that you have prostate cancer. Many men with higher than normal PSA levels do not have cancer. Still, further testing will be needed to help find out what is going on. Your doctor may advise one of these options:
- Waiting a while and having a second PSA test
- Getting another type of test to get a better idea of if you might have cancer
- Getting a prostate biopsy to find out if you have cancer
Its important to discuss your options, including their possible pros and cons, with your doctor to help you choose one you are comfortable with. Factors that might affect which option is best for you include:
- Your age and overall health
- The likelihood that you have prostate cancer
- Your own comfort level with waiting or getting further tests
If your initial PSA test was ordered by your primary care provider, you may be referred to a urologist for this discussion or for further testing.
What Causes An Elevated Psa Level
Prostate cancer is the main cause of an elevated PSA level. But PSA levels increase with age and can reflect different prostate conditions. Other factors that may raise a persons PSA level include:
- Prostate enlargement and inflammation .
- Urinary tract infection.
- Urinary catheter placement.
Your healthcare provider will also consider whether your medications affect PSA levels. For example, 5-alpha reductase blockers treat enlarged prostates and will lower PSA levels.
What Does A High Psa Level Mean
High PSA levels could be a sign of prostate cancer or a different condition like prostatitis or an enlarged prostate.
Other things can affect your PSA level:
- Age. Your PSA will normally go up slowly as you get older, even if you have no prostate problems.
- Medications. Some drugs may affect blood PSA levels. Tell your doctor if youâre taking dutasteride or finasteride . These drugs may falsely lower PSA levels by half of what they should be.
If your PSA level is high, your doctor may suggest that you get a prostate biopsy to test for cancer.
Problems With The Psa Test
There are reasons doctors donât agree on whether you need this test:
- Finding prostate cancer early doesnât always protect you. The PSA test often finds small, slow-growing tumors that arenât life-threatening. Treating them anyway, whether itâs with surgery or radiation, can expose you to harmful side effects and complications. Also, finding cancer early may not help if you have an aggressive tumor or if it spread to distant body parts before you found it.
- The results arenât always accurate. If you have a high level but you donât have cancer, the test results can create a lot of worry and lead to medical procedures you donât need. A negative result if you really do have cancer can prevent you from getting treatment you do need.
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Average Psa Test Doubling Time
Another red flag. This calculation denotes the time it takes your PSA values to double.
Therefore it may signify the aggressiveness of any prostate abnormalities, whether itâs an enlarged prostate, prostatitis, or prostate cancer.
If your average PSA readings double in less than three years your doctor will most likely order a biopsy, to look in to the problem further and discuss possible prostate cancer treatment options.
Is The Psa Test Recommended For Prostate Cancer Screening
Beginning around 2008, as more was learned about both the benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening, a number of professional medical organizations began to caution against routine population screening with the PSA test. Most organizations recommend that individuals who are considering PSA screening first discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors.
Some organizations do recommend that men who are at higher risk of prostate cancer begin PSA screening at age 40 or 45. These include Black men, men with germline variants in BRCA2 , and men whose father or brother had prostate cancer.
In 2018, the United States Preventive Serves Task Force updated its recommendation statement for prostate cancer screening from a D to a C in men ages 55 to 69. The updated recommendation, which applies to the general population as well as those at increased risk due to race/ethnicity or family history, is as follows:
- For individuals ages 55 to 69 years, the decision to undergo periodic PSA-based screening for prostate cancer should be an individual one. Before making the decision, a person should discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their clinician and consider these in the context of their own values and preferences.
- PSA-based screening for prostate cancer is not recommended for individuals 70 years and older.
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What Do The Results Mean
High PSA levels can mean cancer or a noncancerous condition such as a prostate infection, which can be treated with antibiotics. If your PSA levels are higher than normal, your health care provider will probably order more tests, including:
- A rectal exam. For this test, your health care provider will insert a gloved finger into your rectum to feel your prostate.
- A biopsy. This is a minor surgical procedure, where a provider will take a small sample of prostate cells for testing.
If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
When Should I Have My Psa Levels Tested
The first thing to do is talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening before you decide whether to be tested. Donât get tested until you have that talk. Opinions differ about when you should do that.
The American Cancer Society says to get tested at age:
- 40 or 45 if youâre at high risk
- 50 if youâre at average risk
The American Urological Association suggests:
- Under 40: No screening
- 40 to 54: No screening if youâre at average risk. If youâre at a high risk, you and your doctor can decide.
- 55 to 69: Screening if your doctor suggests
- Over 70 or less than a 10-15 year life expectancy: No screening
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says:
- 55 to 69: Men with prostate cancer risks may need testing.
If your doctor thinks you might have prostate cancer based on either a PSA level or a rectal exam, a biopsy is the next step. This is a test where the doctor takes a small amount of tissue from your prostate and sends it to a lab for tests. Itâs the only way to be sure you have cancer.
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