What Is The Psa Test
Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by normal, as well as malignant, cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood. For this test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood.
The blood level of PSA is often elevated in people with prostate cancer, and the PSA test was originally approved by the FDA in 1986 to monitor the progression of prostate cancer in men who had already been diagnosed with the disease. In 1994, FDA approved the PSA test to be used in conjunction with a digital rectal exam to aid in the detection of prostate cancer in men 50 years and older. Until about 2008, many doctors and professional organizations had encouraged yearly PSA screening for prostate cancer beginning at age 50.
PSA testing is also often used by health care providers for individuals who report prostate symptoms to help determine the nature of the problem.
In addition to prostate cancer, several benign conditions can cause a persons PSA level to rise, particularly prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia . There is no evidence that either condition leads to prostate cancer, but someone can have one or both of these conditions and develop prostate cancer as well.
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What Is Cancer Screening
Cancer is a disease when the cells of the body grow out of control. Cancer screening is having tests to look for signs of cancer before you have any symptoms. By the time cancer causes symptoms, it may have already spread to other parts of your body. A screening test may help find cancer early, when it may be easier to treat.
Cancer screening only tells you whether you might have cancer. It doesn’t diagnose cancer. If a screening test shows signs of cancer, you’ll need to have other tests to find out if you do have cancer and how serious it may be.
What Are Normal Psa Levels
Thereâs no such thing as a normal PSA for any man at any given age, but most men with prostate cancer have a higher than normal level. In general:
If your PSA results are in the borderline range , the % free PSA can be useful in helping distinguish between prostate cancer or benign prostatic hyperplasia . The pattern is the opposite of that seen with PSA in that a high % free PSAâabove 20%âpoints to BPH, while a %- free PSA less than 10% indicates a greater likelihood of cancer.
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New Prostate Cancer Blood Test
If you have an abnormal PSA score, your doctor may recommend another newertest that gives a better sense of yourprostate cancer risk. The prostate health index is one such test that is a more accurateblood test and measures your risk for having prostate cancer. Its approvedby the FDA for men who have PSA scores between 4 and 10.
What are the benefits of the PHI test?
- Fewer unnecessary biopsies: Some men who have elevated PSA scores are unsure about getting an invasive biopsy. This tool can be used to better determine whether your risk is high enough to warrant a biopsy.
- More accurate: This test is better at detecting prostate cancer. It can also detect whether you have a more aggressive type of cancer. This information can guide doctors to a more targeted treatment plan for you.
If you score low on the PHI test, your doctor may recommend monitoring youover time to see if your levels rise enough to cause concern.
The Role Of Tests For Prostate Cancer
A prostate cancer lab test is essential in detecting prostate cancer, especially among older men. While a digital rectal exam is used as a preliminary diagnostic tool for the condition, the blood work for prostate cancer establishes the chemical foundation for prostate cancer labs screening.
Likewise, a prostate cancer lab test is also requested to monitor your response to cancer treatment.
Nothing says alarming like cancer. Fortunately, securing a prostate cancer lab test has become more convenient and efficient online. You can make better plans for your health when you have access to our blood test for prostate cancer along with other cancer screening tests.
Just create your account, order the blood test you need, and well take care of the rest, from getting a doctors order to processing your result. All the prostate labs and blood works are done in one of our partner labs nationwide.
What Happens If You Have A Likert Score Of 3 Or More
This result on its own doesnt mean that you definitely have prostate cancer. But its more likely that you do. Your doctor is likely to recommend for you to have a biopsy.
The MRI scan also helps doctors know where to take the biopsy from. You usually have tissue samples taken from the suspected area of cancer and also from the rest of the prostate. Doctors call these targeted biopsies and systematic biopsies. This is because not all cancers can be seen on an MRI scan.
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 youÃ¢re 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.
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Can I Take The Test At Home
Although testing for PSA at home is uncommon, several at-home PSA tests are available. At-home PSA tests typically involve collecting samples of blood at home through a fingerstick and sending the samples into a laboratory for testing. When considering at-home PSA testing, its important to understand the potential harms of this test.
At-home testing may be less accurate than testing a sample taken from a vein. PSA testing can also show a higher result when cancer isnt present and can lead to additional diagnostic procedures. Because the role of PSA testing is highly individualized, its important to seek testing only under the care and guidance of a doctor.
What Are Additional Tests For Detecting Prostate Problems
If the DRE or the PSA blood test indicates a problem may exist, the health care provider may order additional tests, including urinalysis, urodynamic tests, cystoscopy, abdominal ultrasound, transrectal ultrasound with prostate biopsy, and imaging studies such as magnetic resonance imaging or computerized tomography scan.
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What’s A Raised Psa Level
The amount of PSA in your blood is measured in nanograms of PSA per millilitre of blood .
If you’re aged 50 to 69, raised PSA is 3ng/ml or higher.
A raised PSA level in your blood may be a sign of prostate cancer, but it can also be a sign of another condition that’s not cancer, such as:
Transrectal Ultrasound With Prostate Biopsy
Transrectal ultrasound is most often used to examine the prostate. In a transrectal ultrasound, the health care provider inserts a transducer slightly larger than a pen into the mans rectum next to the prostate. The ultrasound image shows the size of the prostate and any abnormal-looking areas, such as tumors. Transrectal ultrasound cannot definitively identify prostate cancer.
To determine whether a tumor is cancerous, the health care provider uses the transducer and ultrasound images to guide a needle to the tumor. The needle is then used to remove a few pieces of prostate tissue for examination with a microscope. This process, called biopsy, can reveal whether prostate cancer is present. A transrectal ultrasound with prostate biopsy is usually performed by a doctor in a health care providers office, outpatient center, or hospital with light sedation and local anesthesia. The biopsied prostate tissue is examined in a laboratory by a pathologista doctor who specializes in diagnosing diseases.
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Other Factors That Influence Psa Levels
The PSA blood test alone cannot diagnose prostate cancer. It is possible, although rare, to have prostate cancer without raised PSA levels in the blood. A higher-than-normal PSA level doesnt automatically indicate prostate cancer either. A high PSA level is due to cancer in around one in three cases.
PSA levels can be raised by other factors, including:
- , also known as benign prostatic enlargement .
For this reason, the PSA blood test isnt used in isolation when checking for prostate cancer.
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What Happens If My Psa Level Is Elevated
If you have a high PSA level, you will need ongoing PSA tests and DREs so your provider can look for any changes. If the PSA level continues to increase or if your healthcare provider finds a lump during a DRE, you may need other tests, including:
- Transrectal ultrasound and prostate biopsies.
- Iso PSA or 4Kscore® .
A biopsy can tell you definitively if you have prostate cancer. The biopsy results also affect your treatment. For example, if the biopsy shows a lot of cancer cells, you might need more aggressive treatment.
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Can A Blood Test Determine If You Have Prostate Cancer
When it comes to prostate cancer, screenings play a key role in saving lives. Earlier detection when there are no symptoms leads to earlier treatment and better outcomes. And the good news is that many prostate cancer screenings can be done with a simple blood test. But thats just the start.
Learn more about how the PSA is the first step in the prostate cancer journey.
Understanding the PSA
For more than 20 years, there has been a blood test to monitor men for high levels of a protein called a prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, that is often associated with prostate cancer. Unfortunately, this test is not perfect many harmless conditions can cause heightened levels of this protein, leading to unnecessary tests and procedures that carry their own risk.
The uncertainty over the value of the PSA test led the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2012 to recommend it only be given to people at high risk of prostate cancer. Other groups, including the American Urological Association, opposed this decision at the time.
But that recommendation has been softened. Instead of advising against this test for most men, the task force now suggests that men aged 55 to 69 should talk to their doctor about its risks and potential benefits.
Dr. Vipul Patel, a urologist and robotic surgeon at the AdventHealth, calls that a step in the positive direction.
If youre over 50 years old, get PSA screening and get a rectal prostate exam, he says.
What the PSA Can Reveal
Both Tests Are Better Than One
Using these tests together is better than using either test alone. PSA testing together with a DRE may help find a dangerous cancer early when it is easier to treat.
If a problem is found, more tests will be done to find out whether you have prostate cancer or another health problem. Further tests can include:
- a follow-up PSA test
- a transrectal ultrasound a test that uses sound waves to make a picture of the rectum and nearby organs, including the prostate
- a biopsy of the prostate tissue samples of the prostate are looked at under a microscope
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What Is A Circulating Tumor Cell Test
A new type of blood test for cancer looks for circulating tumor cells. These cells have broken off from a tumor and are in your bloodstream. This may indicate that cancer is spreading . The test can currently help monitor certain types of cancer, such as breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. Scientists are still developing the technology.
Specialist Referral And Biopsy
Your doctor will discuss your prostate check results with you. If the PSA and DRC results suggest you have a high risk for prostate cancer, your doctor will refer you to a urologist .
The specialist will discuss having a prostate biopsy, in which a small sample of your prostate gland cells are taken for examination.
The aim of the biopsy is to confirm whether or not you have prostate cancer and, if so, whether it needs treatment. The treatment options will then be discussed with you.
If the biopsy shows no evidence of cancer, you may be advised to attend future check-ups.
How Soon Will Prostate Test Results Be Available
Results for simple medical tests such as some urodynamic tests, cystoscopy, and abdominal ultrasound are often available soon after the test. The results of other medical tests such as PSA blood test and prostate tissue biopsy may take several days to come back. A health care provider will talk with the patient about the results and possible treatments for the problem.
Positron Emission Tomography Scan
A PET scan is similar to a bone scan, in that a slightly radioactive substance is injected into the blood, which can then be detected with a special camera. But PET scans use different tracers that collect mainly in cancer cells. The most common tracer for standard PET scans is FDG, which is a type of sugar. Unfortunately, this type of PET scan isnt very useful in finding prostate cancer cells in the body.
However, newer tracers, such as fluciclovine F18, sodium fluoride F18, and choline C11, have been found to be better at detecting prostate cancer cells.
Other newer tracers, such as Ga 68 PSMA-11, 18F-DCFPyl , and Ga 68 gozetotide , attach to prostate-specific membrane antigen , a protein that is often found in large amounts on prostate cancer cells. Tests using these types of tracers are sometimes referred to as PSMA PET scans.
These newer types of PET scans are most often used if its not clear if prostate cancer has spread. For example, one of these tests might be done if the results of a bone scan arent clear, or if a man has a rising PSA level after initial treatment but its not clear where the cancer is in the body. PSMA PET scans can also be used to help determine if the cancer can be treated with a radiopharmaceutical that targets PSMA.
Doctors are still learning about the best ways to use these newer types of PET scans, and some of them might not be available yet in all imaging centers.
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New Blood Test Improves Prostate Cancer Screening
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet recently reported that magnetic resonance imaging could reduce overdiagnoses and thereby improve prostate cancer screening.
Now, the same research group has published a study in The Lancet Oncology, which shows that the addition of a novel blood test, the Stockholm3 test, can reduce the number of MRIs performed by a third while further preventing the detection of minor, low-risk tumours.
Image credit: Darko Stojanovic via pixabay.com, free licence
Overall, our studies show that we have identified the tools needed to be able to carry out effective and safe screening for prostate cancer. After many years of debate and research, it feels fantastic to be able to present knowledge that can improve healthcare for men, says Tobias NordstrÃ¶m, associate professor of urology at the Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital at Karolinska Institutet, who is responsible for the STHLM3MRI study.
Current screening methods PSA tests combined with traditional biopsies result in unnecessary biopsies and the detection of numerous minor, low-risk tumours . Consequently, no country except Lithuania has chosen to introduce a nationwide prostate cancer screening programme, as the benefits do not outweigh the disadvantages.
Understanding Your Psa Test Results
PSA is usually measured in nanograms per millilitre of blood . There is no one PSA value that is considered normal. The value varies from man to man and increases as you get older. Most men have a PSA level of less than 3ng/ml.
Your GP or specialist may suggest further tests if your PSA level is higher than would be expected for someone of your age. Talk to your doctor about your PSA level and what this means for you.
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What This Means For You
The Prostate Cancer UK spokesperson sounds a note of caution for now, pointing out that until these studies have been conducted, we dont have enough information about its benefits.
This innovative testing method is an interesting new approach, but there simply hasnt been enough detailed research into its effectiveness for us to be able to recommend for its use at this stage, he says. Until then, we would not recommend that anyone use this test as a substitute for current standard methods.
Of course, research in the field will be continuing apace.
In order to save more lives from prostate cancer it is crucial that we create a diagnostic process that is robust enough to routinely diagnose men early and accurately, says the spokesperson.
The Test Is Often Not Needed
Most men with high PSAs dont have prostate cancer. Their high PSAs might be due to:
- An enlarged prostate gland.
- Recent sexual activity.
- A recent, long bike ride.
Up to 25% of men with high PSAs may have prostate cancer, depending on age and PSA level. But most of these cancers do not cause problems. It is common for older men to have some cancer cells in their prostate glands. These cancers are usually slow to grow. They are not likely to spread beyond the prostate. They usually dont cause symptoms, or death.
Studies show that routine PSA tests of 1,000 men ages 55 to 69 prevent one prostate cancer death. But the PSA also has risks.
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