Monday, May 23, 2022

Which Laboratory Test Is Done To Screen For Prostate Cancer

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If Screening Test Results Arent Normal

How to Test for Prostate Cancer | Ask a Prostate Expert, Mark Scholz, MD

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 Is The Chance Of A Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer

Around 17,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in Australia. It affects mostly men in older age groups and is rare in men under 50 years of age.

The chance of developing prostate cancer is significantly higher in men who have a close relative with prostate cancer the risks are higher if the relative was diagnosed before the age of 60.

If you have a family history of prostate cancer, talk to your doctor.

How Reliable Are Laboratory Tests And Their Results

The results of laboratory tests affect many of the decisions a doctor makes about a personâs health care, including whether additional tests are necessary, developing a treatment plan, or monitoring a personâs response to treatment. It is very important, therefore, that the laboratory tests themselves are trustworthy and that the laboratory that performs the tests meets rigorous state and federal regulatory standards.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates the development and marketing of all laboratory tests that use test kits and equipment that are commercially manufactured in the United States. After the FDA approves a laboratory test, other federal and state agencies make sure that the test materials and equipment meet strict standards while they are being manufactured and then used in a medical or clinical laboratory.

All laboratory testing that is performed on humans in the United States is regulated through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments , which were passed by Congress in 1988. The CLIA laboratory certification program is administered by the Centers for Medicare& Medicaid Services in conjunction with the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CLIA ensures that laboratory staff are appropriately trained and supervised and that testing laboratories have quality control programs in place so that test results are accurate and reliable.

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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.

Discuss Prostate Cancer Testing With Your Doctor

Prostate

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.

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What Research Has Been Done To Study Prostate Cancer Screening

Several randomized clinical trials of prostate cancer screening have been carried out. One of the largest is the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, which NCI conducted to determine whether certain screening tests can help reduce the numbers of deaths from several common cancers. In the prostate portion of the trial, the PSA test and DRE were evaluated for their ability to decrease a mans chances of dying from prostate cancer.

The PLCO investigators found that men who underwent annual prostate cancer screening had a higher incidence of prostate cancer than men in the control group but the same rate of deaths from the disease . Overall, the results suggest that many men were treated for prostate cancers that would not have been detected in their lifetime without screening. Consequently, these men were exposed unnecessarily to the potential harms of treatment.

A second large trial, the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer , compared prostate cancer deaths in men randomly assigned to PSA-based screening or no screening. As in the PLCO, men in ERSPC who were screened for prostate cancer had a higher incidence of the disease than control men. In contrast to the PLCO, however, men who were screened had a lower rate of death from prostate cancer .

At What Age Should You Get Screened For Prostate Cancer

The following prostate cancer screening guidelines apply to men expected to live at least ten years.

Men ages 45 to 49 should have a baseline PSA test.

  • If the PSA level is 3 ng / mL or higher, men should talk with their doctor about having a biopsy of the prostate.
  • If the PSA level is between 1 and 3 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test every two to four years.
  • If the PSA level is less than 1 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test between the ages of 51 and 55.

Men ages 50 to 59 should have their PSA level checked.

  • If the PSA level is 3 ng / mL or higher, men should talk with their doctor about having a biopsy of the prostate.
  • If the PSA level is between 1 and 3 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test every two to four years.
  • If the PSA level is less than 1 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test at age 60.

Men ages 60 to 70 should have their PSA level checked.

  • If the PSA level is 3 ng / mL or higher, men should talk with their doctor about having a biopsy of the prostate.
  • If the PSA level is between 1 and 3 ng / mL, men should see their doctor for another PSA test every two to four years.
  • If the PSA level is less than 1 ng / mL, no further screening is recommended.

Men ages 71 to 75 should talk with their doctor about whether to have a PSA test. This decision should be based on past PSA levels and the health of the man.

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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.

What Clinical Trials Are Open

Improving The PSA Test For Screening Prostate Cancer

Clinical trials that are currently open and are recruiting can be viewed at www.ClinicalTrials.gov.

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:Steven A. Kaplan, M.D., Weill Cornell Medical College Michel A. Pontari, M.D., Temple University School of Medicine

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What Are The Symptoms Of Prostate Problems

The symptoms of prostate problems may include

  • urinary retentionthe inability to empty the bladder completely
  • urinary frequencyurination eight or more times a day
  • urinary urgencythe inability to delay urination
  • urinary incontinencethe accidental loss of urine
  • nocturiafrequent urination at night
  • trouble beginning a urine stream
  • weak or interrupted urine stream
  • blockage of urine
  • urine that has an unusual color or odor
  • pain after ejaculation or during urination

Different prostate problems may have similar symptoms. For example, one man with prostatitis and another with BPH may both experience urinary urgency. Sometimes symptoms for the same prostate problem differ among individuals. For example, one man with BPH may have trouble beginning a urine stream, while another may experience nocturia. A man in the early stages of prostate cancer may have no symptoms at all. Because of this confusing array of symptoms, a thorough medical exam and testing are vital.

What Is Screening For Prostate Cancer

Some men get a PSA test to screen for prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor, learn what is involved, and decide if a PSA test is right for you.

Cancer screeningexternal icon means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if not treated, and to find them early before they spread.

If you are thinking about being screened, learn about the possible benefits and harms of screening, diagnosis, and treatment, and talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors.

There is no standard test to screen for prostate cancer. Two tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer are described below.

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Why Do I Need A Psa Test

You may get a PSA test if you have certain risk factors for prostate cancer. These include:

  • A father or brother with prostate cancer
  • Being African-American. Prostate cancer is more common in African American men. The reason for this is unknown.
  • Your age. Prostate cancer is more common in men over the age of 50.

You may also get a PSA test if:

  • You have symptoms such as painful or frequent urination, and pelvic and/or back pain.
  • You’ve already been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The PSA test can help monitor the effects of your treatment.

Can I Take The Test At Home

471_PSA

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.

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Factors That Might Affect Psa Levels

One reason its hard to use a set cutoff point with the PSA test when looking for prostate cancer is that a number of factors other than cancer can also affect PSA levels.

Factors that might raise PSA levels include:

  • An enlarged prostate: Conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that affects many men as they grow older, can raise PSA levels.
  • Older age: PSA levels normally go up slowly as you get older, even if you have no prostate abnormality.
  • Prostatitis: This is an infection or inflammation of the prostate gland, which can raise PSA levels.
  • Ejaculation: Thiscan make the PSA go up for a short time. This is why some doctors suggest that men abstain from ejaculation for a day or two before testing.
  • Riding a bicycle: Some studies have suggested that cycling may raise PSA levels for a short time , although not all studies have found this.
  • Certain urologic procedures: Some procedures done in a doctors office that affect the prostate, such as a prostate biopsy or cystoscopy, can raise PSA levels for a short time. Some studies have suggested that a digital rectal exam might raise PSA levels slightly, although other studies have not found this. Still, if both a PSA test and a DRE are being done during a doctor visit, some doctors advise having the blood drawn for the PSA before having the DRE, just in case.
  • Certain medicines: Taking male hormones like testosterone may cause a rise in PSA.

Some things might lower PSA levels :

Prostate Cancer Urine Test

This test detects the gene PCA3 in your urine and can also help your doctorbetter assess your prostate cancer risk.

PCA3 is a prostate-specific noncoding RNA. Its a gene thats only in yourprostate. If the gene is overexpressed , then theres a greater chance you have prostate cancer.

Like PSA and PHI tests, this isnt definitive, either. But data suggestthat when cancer is present, the PCA3 will be positive 80 percent of thetime. This test can also help your doctor determine whether a biopsy isnecessary.

Both of these new tests are more accurate than the PSA test. Your doctormay recommend one or more than one, based on the specifics of your case.

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Genetic Testing For Some Men With Prostate Cancer

Some doctors now recommend that some men with prostate cancer be tested to look for certain inherited gene changes. This includes men in whom a family cancer syndrome is suspected, as well as men with prostate cancer that has certain high-risk features or that has spread to other parts of the body. Talk to your doctor about the possible pros, cons, and limitations of such testing.

What Are Clinical Trials And Are They Right For You

Continuous Lab Testing Helped Diagnose and Treat Travis Prostate Cancer (Teaser)

Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. Researchers also use clinical trials to look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. Find out if clinical trials are right for you.

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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.

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