If You Are Transgender
If you are a trans man you do not have a prostate and do not need a PSA test.
Trans women and non-binary people assigned male at birth still have a prostate gland, whether they have had genital gender-affirming surgery or not. This means they may still get prostate cancer, although there is not enough evidence to know how common this is.
If you are a trans woman or non-binary person assigned male at birth and would like to have the PSA test, talk to your GP.
You may worry about talking to your doctor or practice nurse about this, but they are used to talking about many different needs. If you find it difficult to start the conversation, you could try showing them this information. You should talk about any worrying symptoms or concerns with your GP or nurse.
Prostate cancer UK have detailed information about trans women and prostate cancer.
The LGBT Foundation can also give you confidential advice and support. You can also talk to one of our cancer support specialists.
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.
Why The Test Is Performed
Reasons for a PSA test:
- This test may be done to screen for prostate cancer.
- It is also used to follow people after prostate cancer treatment to see if the cancer has come back.
- If a provider feels the prostate gland is not normal during physical exam.
MORE ABOUT SCREENING FOR PROSTATE CANCER
Measuring the PSA level can increase the chance of finding prostate cancer when it is very early. But there is debate over the value of the PSA test for detecting prostate cancer. No single answer fits all men.
For some men 55 through 69 years old, screening may help reduce the chance of death from prostate cancer. However, for many men, screening and treatment could potentially be harmful instead of beneficial.
Before having the test, talk to your provider about the pros and cons of having a PSA test. Ask about:
- Whether screening decreases your chance of dying from prostate cancer
- Whether there is any harm from prostate cancer screening, such as side-effects from testing or overtreatment of cancer when discovered
Men younger than age 55 have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer and should talk with their provider about PSA screening if they:
- Have a family history of prostate cancer
- Are African American
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Discuss Prostate Cancer Testing With Your Doctor
Medical authorities do not recommend that all men should be tested for prostate cancer. In fact, most authorities suggest that men should make their own choice about whether or not to have a PSA test. If you decide to be tested, it is recommended that it should be done every two years from 50 to 69 years of age, and only if your health is such that you expect to live for at least another seven years.;
Men at high risk of prostate cancer, such as men with a family history of prostate cancer , or men who have previously had an elevated test result, can start two-yearly testing from age 45. Your doctor can help you decide whether this is necessary.
While there is now some evidence that regular testing may prevent prostate cancer deaths, there are concerns that many men may be diagnosed and treated unnecessarily as a result of being screened, with a high cost to their health and quality of life .;
However, the option of active surveillance, where a low-risk cancer is watched closely instead of being treated, helps to lower these risks. Active surveillance is now used quite commonly in Australia for men with low-risk prostate cancer.
If you are unsure whether or not to be tested after considering the benefits and uncertainties of testing and your own risk of prostate cancer, discuss it with your doctor.
In Australia, if you choose to be tested for prostate cancer the tests are covered by Medicare.
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.
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The Role Of Psa In Choosing The Best Treatment
If you have received a diagnosis of prostate cancer, your PSA levels can be used along with the results of other tests and physical exams and your tumors Gleason score to help determine which tests are needed for further evaluation and to decide on the best treatment plan. After treatment has begun, your PSA and other tests will be used to determine how well the treatment is working: The more successful the therapy, the lower the PSA.
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Improving Sensitivity Of Psa Testing
Prostate-specific antigen testing with a cutoff of 4.0 ng/mL has a sensitivity of 67.5-80%, which implies that 20-30% of cancers are missed when only the PSA level is obtained. Sensitivity can be improved by lowering the cutoff or by monitoring PSA values so that a rise in PSA level of more than 20-25% per year or an increase of 0.75 ng/mL in 1 year would trigger performance of a biopsy regardless of the PSA value.
The specificity of PSA at levels higher than 4.0 ng/mL is 60-70%. Specificity can be improved by using age-adjusted values, PSA velocity , and the ratio of free PSA to total PSA . Another method is to adjust the PSA according to the size of the prostate or volume determinations of the transitional zone, which produces most of the PSA, and the peripheral zone, which produces less PSA but a majority of prostate cancers.
In the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer, Schroder et al studied a strategy for the early detection of prostate cancer that excluded digital rectal examination results and used a PSA cutoff of 3.0 ng/mL as the only indication for a biopsy. This protocol was compared with one in which a PSA level of 4.0 ng/mL or higher or the presence of a positive DRE or transrectal ultrasound was the indication for a biopsy. In a follow-up study, Schroder et al confirmed a substantial reduction in mortality from prostate cancer as a result of PSA testing.
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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 .
Factors Influencing Psa Levels
For clinical purposes, prostate-specific antigen is considered specific for the prostate gland but not specific for prostate cancer. A major limitation of PSA as a prostate cancer marker is the overlap in values between benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Normal, hyperplastic, and neoplastic epithelial cells all make PSA, but the amount of PSA produced by cancer cells is 10 times higher per gram of tissue than the amount produced by normal or hyperplastic tissue.
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What Is Considered An Elevated Prostate
Researchers havent settled on a single normal PSA level. Previously, a level of 4.0 ng/mL or higher would lead to more testing, usually a prostate biopsy. During the biopsy, a healthcare provider removes a small sample of prostate tissue to check it for cancer.
However, healthcare providers now consider other issues together with the PSA level to decide whether to perform a biopsy. Your age, general health, family history and health history factor into the decision.
How Is A Digital Rectal Exam Performed
A DRE is a physical exam of the prostate. The health care provider will ask the patient to bend over a table or lie on his side while holding his knees close to his chest. The health care provider slides a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feels the part of the prostate that lies next to it. The DRE may be slightly uncomfortable, but it is brief. This exam reveals whether the prostate has any abnormalities that require more testing. If an infection is suspected, the health care provider might massage the prostate during the DRE to obtain fluid to examine with a microscope. This exam is usually done first. Many health care providers perform a DRE as part of a routine physical exam for men age 50 or older, some even at age 40, whether or not the man has urinary problems.
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What Is The 4k Biomarker
The 4kscore test measures free and total PSA, human kallikrein 2 , and intact PSA and considers age, digital rectal exam results, and prior biopsy status. The test result reports the percent likelihood of finding high-grade prostate cancer on a prostate biopsy result. This test is not approved by the FDA, rather it is regulated as a laboratory-developed test. No cutoff threshold has been established for this test. Currently, the NCCN recommendations are that this test can be considered in patients prior to biopsy and for those with a prior negative prostate biopsy who are thought to be at higher risk for a high grade prostate cancer.
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.
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How Psa Results Are Used For Diagnosis
In the past, many doctors wanted men with elevated PSA and/or an abnormal digital rectal examination to undergo a prostate biopsy. Today, this is not a course of action recommended by the American Urological Association. In such cases, multiparametric prostate MRI is now recommended as the best front-line test to detector rule outprostate cancer.
If a mpMRI shows a suspicious finding, a MRI-guided biopsy is the most accurate way to perform a biopsy of the prostate. If this is not possible, an MRI can be used with an ultrasound-guided biopsy. This is referred to as a fusion biopsy, and is more accurate than an ultrasound biopsy alone.
Psa Levels And How They Can Vary
Experts views regarding PSA levels have changed over the years.;;
Previously, PSA levels of 4.0 ng/mL and lower were considered normal. For men with test results showing levels above 4.0 ng/mL, doctors would recommend a prostate biopsy. But in more recent years, studies have demonstrated that some men with PSA levels lower than 4.0 ng/mL can have prostate cancer, and many men with PSA levels higher than 4.0 ng/mL dont have prostate cancer.;;
Moreover, a number of factors can cause PSA levels to fluctuate. Prostatitis, urinary tract infections, prostate biopsies, and prostate surgery may also cause PSA levels to rise. On the other hand, certain drugs can cause PSA levels to lower, such as finasteride and dutasteride .;;;
Generally, the higher the PSA level, the more indicative it is of prostate cancer, and an ongoing rise in PSA levels may also signal prostate cancer.;;
- Men whose PSA level is between 4.0 ng/mL and 10 ng/mL have a 1 in 4 chance of having prostate cancer.;
- When a PSA level is over 10 ng/mL, there is a more than 50 percent chance of having prostate cancer.
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How To Get A Psa Test
Consult with your general practitioner or urologist about receiving a PSA test in their offices. PSA tests are typically covered without co-pay or deductible by Medicare once a year for men 50 years and older. Many states now have laws which require private health insurers to cover the costs for PSA testing. However, additional PSA test costs may need to be covered by the patient. For those without insurance, or for those with insurance that does not cover PSA testing, free tools are available through advocacy groups, such as ZERO.
Companies such as;imawaretm;also offer in-home PSA testing kits and telemedicine appointments to discuss your PSA test results with a licensed physician. All imaware test kits are easy to use. After registering the test kit online, results will populate in the secure patient portal within 5-7 business days. You can submit your receipt of this test to insurance for potential reimbursement.
“At-Home testing is now at a point where results can be provided accurately and quickly within 5 business days, with real physicians providing telemedicine support through the entire testing process”
Dr. Diamandis – Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System
What Is Considered A Normal Psa Blood Level
PSA blood test results are reported as nanograms per milliliter, or ng/ml. Normal levels usually range from 0 ng/ml to 4 ng/ml, although what is considered normal may vary by age and race. Mild to moderate increases in PSA between 4 and 10 are considered borderline, while levels over 10 are considered high. The higher the PSA, the more likely the presence of prostate cancer.
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What Is The Psa Screening Controversy
The goal of measuring PSA in men with no symptoms of cancer as a screening test for prostate cancer is to reduce the mortality caused by this cancer. Although the advent of prostate cancer screening is associated with decreased prostate cancer deaths, concerns exist regarding risks of overtreatment and the associated risks of such treatments.
A substantial number of the cancers detected by PSA screening are early stage and low-risk, and these patients will likely never die from this disease. PSA screening, due to its low specificity, does not allow differentiating between low-risk and high-risk prostate cancer. Hence PSA systematic screening is inevitably associated with over-diagnosis and potentially overtreatment. Therefore, not only do these patients not benefit from early detection but they also carry the burden of a cancer diagnosis. In addition, a subset of these patients may suffer the side effects of an unnecessary treatment.
Another trial conducted in the United States recently concluded that there is no evidence of an improvement in death rate from prostate cancer with annual PSA screening compared with usual medical care. After 13 years of follow-up, the cumulative mortality rates from prostate cancer in the intervention and control groups were 3.7 and 3.4 deaths per 10,000 person-years, respectively, meaning that there was no significant difference between the two groups.
Special Types Of Psa Tests
The PSA level from a screening test is sometimes referred to as total PSA, because it includes the different forms of PSA . If you decide to get a PSA screening test and the result isnt normal, some doctors might consider using different types of PSA tests to help decide if you need a prostate biopsy, although not all doctors agree on how to use these tests. If your PSA test result isnt normal, ask your doctor to discuss your cancer risk and your need for further tests.
Percent-free PSA: PSA occurs in 2 major forms in the blood. One form is attached to blood proteins, while the other circulates free . The percent-free PSA is the ratio of how much PSA circulates free compared to the total PSA level. The percentage of free PSA is lower in men who have prostate cancer than in men who do not.
If your PSA test result is in the borderline range , the percent-free PSA might be used to help decide if you should have a prostate biopsy. A lower percent-free PSA means that your chance of having prostate cancer is higher and you should probably have a biopsy.
Many doctors recommend a prostate biopsy for men whose percent-free PSA is 10% or less, and advise that men consider a biopsy if it is between 10% and 25%. Using these cutoffs detects most cancers and helps some men avoid unnecessary biopsies. This test is widely used, but not all doctors agree that 25% is the best cutoff point to decide on a biopsy, and the cutoff may change depending on the overall PSA level.
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