Causes Of An Elevated Psa Level
Prostate cancer typically leads to an elevated PSA level. Given that early-stage prostate cancer is generally limited to asymptomatic malignant changes at the cellular level, men have no way of knowing that something is wrong. This is why prostate cancer screening in the form of PSA testing is the best method of early detection. Please refer to the PSA Table for help in interpreting your PSA scores.
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Pros And Cons Of The Psa Test
- it may reassure you if the test result is normal
- it can find early signs of cancer, meaning you can get treated early
- PSA testing may reduce your risk of dying if you do have cancer
- it can miss cancer and provide false reassurance
- it may lead to unnecessary worry and medical tests when there’s no cancer
- it cannot tell the difference between slow-growing and fast-growing cancers
- it may make you worry by finding a slow-growing cancer that may never cause any problems
What Symptoms Should I Look Out For
If your cancer does come back, the first sign is likely to be a rise in your PSA level, rather than any symptoms. And problems will often be side effects of treatment rather than a sign that your cancer has come back.
However, its important to let your doctor or nurse know if you do get any new symptoms or side effects, or are worried that your cancer might have come back. If your cancer has come back and has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, it can cause symptoms, such as extreme tiredness ” rel=”nofollow”> fatigue), bone pain and problems urinating.
Your doctor or nurse can help find out what might be causing your symptoms and help you manage any side effects. They can also look at your PSA level and do other tests to see whether or not your cancer might have come back.
What other tests might I have?
If your doctor or nurse is concerned about your PSA level or if you have new symptoms that suggest your cancer might have come back, they may recommend that you have some other tests, such as a prostate biopsy, MRI scan, CT scan, bone scan or PET scan.
Your doctor or nurse will explain these tests to you if you need them, or you can get in touch with our Specialist Nurses for more information.
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How The Prostate Changes As You Age
Because the prostate gland tends to grow larger with age, it may squeeze the urethra and cause problems in passing urine. Sometimes men in their 30s and 40s may begin to have these urinary symptoms and need medical attention. For others, symptoms aren’t noticed until much later in life. An infection or a tumor can also make the prostate larger. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the urinary symptoms listed below.
Tell your doctor if you have these urinary symptoms:
- Are passing urine more during the day
- Have an urgent need to pass urine
- Have less urine flow
- Feel burning when you pass urine
- Need to get up many times during the night to pass urine
Growing older raises your risk of prostate problems. The three most common prostate problems are inflammation , enlarged prostate , and prostate cancer.
One change does not lead to another. For example, having prostatitis or an enlarged prostate does not increase your risk of prostate cancer. It is also possible for you to have more than one condition at the same time.
A Dozen Things That Can Raise Your Psa That Arent Cancer
Elevated PSA levels dont always spell cancer!
This month was Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. So you went to your doctor for an exam and a Prostate Specific Antigen blood test. If your came Prostate Specific Antigen back 1.0 ng/ml or less, congratulations on a perfectly healthy prostate! However, if you are one of the many men whos Prostate Specific Antigen level is slightly to moderately elevated , not to worry, it doesnt necessarily mean cancer!
There are many things that can contribute to an elevated Prostate Specific Antigen level beside having cancer. Think of PSA as a barometer of overall prostate health. If levels start to rise then its time to take action as something is going awry.
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Is The Psa Test Recommended For Prostate Cancer Screening
Until about 2008, some doctors and professional organizations encouraged yearly PSA screening for men beginning at age 50. Some organizations recommended that men who are at higher risk of prostate cancer, including African-American men and men whose father or brother had prostate cancer, begin screening at age 40 or 45. However, as more was learned about both the benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening, a number of organizations began to caution against routine population screening. Most organizations recommend that men who are considering PSA screening first discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors.
Currently, Medicare provides coverage for an annual PSA test for all Medicare-eligible men age 50 and older. Many private insurers cover PSA screening as well.
Avoid Having Sex Before A Psa Test To Avoid False Results
Dr. David Samadi
Youâve made youâre appointment with the urologist for your annual PSA test. Whether a man looks forward to this doctorâs visit or not, it is a necessary part of screening for any issues that may be affecting the prostate gland.
Thereâs just one thing to remember no sex for 48 hours before the test.
A PSA, or prostate specific antigen test, is a simple blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen present in the blood.
PSA is a protein that men have in their blood which is released by the prostate gland. In healthy males, the amount of PSA men have in their blood is low generally less than 4.0 ng/mL.
However, when men age, their prostate can experience physiological or pathological changes which cause the PSA to rise.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. The prostate is just in front of the rectum. The urethra runs through the center of the prostate, from the bladder to the penis, letting urine flow out of the body.
However, the PSA test is far from foolproof. Values of the PSA test can vary depending on when the test is administered. A man can help get the most accurate score by following certain suggestions before he has the PSA test done.
The reason for refraining from sexual activity right before getting a PSA test is that semen released during sex can cause PSA levels to rise temporarily, which may influence or affect the test results.
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What Happens At A Follow
Discussion with your doctor or nurse
At each appointment, your doctor or nurse will ask how youve been since your last appointment.
Tell them about any symptoms or treatment side effects youve had, as well as any other problems or concerns. You can tell them how you are feeling emotionally as well as physically. You can also discuss any practical problems you might have, such as problems at work or with day-to-day activities. You may be given a questionnaire about your physical, social, emotional and practical needs. You might hear this called a holistic needs assessment form.
Your GP or hospital doctor or nurse can help you deal with side effects, or refer you to someone else who can. For example, if you have problems with leaking urine , they might refer you to a continence service. Or if you have problems getting or keeping erections , they can refer you to an erectile dysfunction service. They can also help you get support for emotional problems, such as feeling anxious or depressed, and practical problems, such as managing your finances.
You might feel embarrassed talking about some of the side effects of treatments, such as erection problems. But remember doctors and nurses see people with these problems every day, so be as open as you can. They are there to help.
You may be asked to avoid any vigorous exercise or ejaculating in the 48 hours before a PSA test, as this could cause a temporary rise in your PSA level.
What Is It Used For
A PSA test is used to screen for prostate cancer. Screening is a test that looks for a disease, such as cancer, in its early stages, when itâs most treatable. Leading health organizations, such as the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , disagree on recommendations for using the PSA test for cancer screening. Reasons for disagreement include:
- Most types of prostate cancer grow very slowly. It can take decades before any symptoms show up.
- Treatment of slow-growing prostate cancer is often unnecessary. Many men with the disease live long, healthy lives without ever knowing they had cancer.
- Treatment can cause major side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
- Fast-growing prostate cancer is less common, but more serious and often life-threatening. Age, family history, and other factors can put you at higher risk. But the PSA test alone canât tell the difference between slow- and fast-growing prostate cancer.
To find out if PSA testing is right for you, talk to your health care provider.
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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 Can Cause Psa To Rise Quickly
Sudden elevated PSA can be caused by prostatitis. Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate. When the prostate is inflamed, it can be difficult or painful to urinate. If you have prostatitis, you may experience a persistent urge to urinate, wake up at night to urinate, or feel like you need to make frequent trips to the restroom. You may also have pain in the testicles or anorectal region or general pelvic discomfort. Chronic prostatitis is usually caused by autoimmune diseases, stress, and pelvic floor spasms. Urinary tract infections, bladder infections, urinary retention, and prostate stones usually cause bacterial prostatitis. Prostatitis is usually treated with antibiotics.
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Does My Psa Level Determine Whether I Have Prostate Cancer
Your provider looks at two factors related to your PSA:
- Your PSA level: A higher level means a higher risk of prostate cancer.
- A continuous rise: PSA levels that continue to rise after two or more tests may mean you have cancer.
But the PSA level alone doesnt determine if you have cancer or not. Two men can even have the same PSA levels but different risks of prostate cancer. And a high PSA level may reflect prostate problems that arent cancer.
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.
- Prostate MRI.
- 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.
What Do The Test Results Mean
PSA tests can be difficult to interpret. Tests can also vary from laboratory to laboratory. To ensure accurate comparison, its important to use the same lab each time youre tested.
If your PSA level is low and not rising after repeated tests, its probably not a cancer recurrence. Thats because other cells in your body can produce small amounts of PSA.
Ideally, your post-prostatectomy PSA will be undetectable, or less than 0.05 or 0.1 nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood . If thats the case, your doctor may call it a remission.
If the result is greater than or equal to 0.2 ng/mL and its risen on two separate tests taken at least two weeks apart, its called a biochemical relapse. You still have PSA in your bloodstream. Theres a chance that cancer has recurred.
A PSA level higher than that may indicate a locally advanced tumor.
What Is Psa And How Do Psa Tests Work
The prostate is a small, apricot sized gland that sits below the bladder in males and uniquely produces prostate-specific antigen, a protein that circulates in the bloodstream. A PSA test is a blood test that measures prostate activity, reporting results as nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood . Prostate cancer screening is generally recommended for men 55-70 years old or as young as 40 years old for men with a family or racial history that places them in a high-risk group. To benefit from prostate cancer screening, a man should be generally be healthy enough to have a 10-year life expectancy.
The range generally accepted as a normal PSA level spans from zero to four nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood, though there are exceptions based on age, race, and risk factors. You and your physician can discuss whether any such nuanced situations apply to you. Keep in mind although a PSA test can certainly detect high levels of PSA in the blood, it is not enough to diagnose a cancer because an elevated PSA is not a definitive sign of prostate cancer.
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What Should You Know About Psa Levels
Under normal circumstances, the serum secretions of PSA should stay under 4 nanograms per milliliter . People who have prostate malignancy usually have high PSA levels, but low or normal PSA doesnt always mean that the person is cancer-free. A smaller number of men with prostate cancer have low or normal PSA levels. This suggests that PSA test by itself is not a confirmatory test but can help in identifying who might be at risk of developing the cancer or has developed the malignancy.
Usually PSA test is preceded or coupled by DRE , in which the examiner inserts the finger in patients rectum to check for the consistency or edges of prostate gland. At risk patients with abnormal findings on the DRE and high PSA levels are subjected to biopsy to ascertain the cause and confirm the diagnosis. It is imperative to mention that False-Positives are common.
High PSA Levels without Prostate Cancer:
Testing errors such as mishandling of sample, measuring inconsistency, lifestyle choices and overall physical health can alter with PSA levels. Following are some physiological causes of high PSA levels.
Ejaculation Is A Potential Cause Of Mildly Elevated Psa
“Ejaculation can cause a mild elevation of your PSA level, and so can having a digital rectal exam,” says Milner. “These types of PSA elevations are usually not enough to make a significant difference unless your PSA is borderline. PSA should return to normal in two to three days.”
To avoid this type of elevation, doctors will usually draw blood for a person’s PSA level before doing a rectal exam. Ask your doctor if you should avoid ejaculation for a few days before a PSA test.
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Talking With Your Doctor
Different kinds of doctors and other health care professionals manage prostate health. They can help you find the best care, answer your questions, and address your concerns. These health care professionals include:
- Family doctors and internists
- Physician assistants and nurse practitioners
- Urologists, who are experts in diseases of the urinary tract system and the male reproductive system
- Urologic oncologists, who are experts in treating cancers of the urinary system and the male reproductive system
- Radiation oncologists, who use radiation therapy to treat cancer
- Medical oncologists, who treat cancer with medications such as hormone treatments and chemotherapy
- Pathologists, who identify diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope
View these professionals as your partnersâexpert advisors and helpers in your health care. Talking openly with your doctors can help you learn more about your prostate changes and the tests to expect.
Psa Levels After Treatment
A continuous rise in your PSA level can be the first sign that your cancer has come back. This should be picked up by your regular PSA tests.
The exact change in PSA level that suggests your cancer has come back will depend on which treatment you had. Speak to your doctor or nurse about your own situation.
Your PSA level should drop so low that its not possible to detect it at six to eight weeks after surgery. This is because the prostate, which produces PSA, has been removed. A rise in your PSA level may suggest that you still have some prostate cancer cells.
After radiotherapy or brachytherapy, your PSA should drop to its lowest level after 18 months to two years. Your PSA level wont fall to zero as your healthy prostate cells will continue to produce some PSA.
Your PSA level may actually rise after radiotherapy treatment, and then fall again. This is called PSA bounce. It could happen up to three years after treatment. It is normal, and doesnt mean that the cancer has come back.
If your PSA level rises by 2 ng/ml or more above its lowest level, this could be a sign that your cancer has come back. Your doctor will continue to check your PSA level and will talk to you about further tests and treatment options.
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