PSA Testing for Early Prostate Cancer Screening
The early detection of certain types of prostate cancer is critical for successful treatment. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. While prostate-specific antigens are present in the blood of all men, elevated levels may be indicative of prostate cancer. However, this is not always the case. PSA tests are never used alone to diagnose cancer or other conditions.
What is a PSA test?
A PSA test is a blood test for men, that measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). It is important to note that PSA is a protein that is produced by normal healthy cells of the prostate. It is also a protein that is produced by malignant cells of the prostate.
Since PSA is present in all men, the test is looking for significantly elevated levels of PSA. Significantly elevated levels can be a symptom of prostate cancer. But, other, non-cancerous conditions can also be responsible for elevated PSA levels.
For this reason, elevated levels of PSA in the blood should not be considered a sure sign of cancer. Instead, elevated PSA levels should be used as a guide for further testing and evaluation.
Causes of Elevated PSA Levels Other Than Cancer
An elevated PSA level may be the result of harmless conditions, or even as the result of medications you take. The following is a partial list of reasons why you might have an elevated PSA level, but not have prostate cancer.
- Enlarged prostate (BPH)
- Inflamed/infected prostate (prostatitis)
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- High levels of parathyroid hormone
Note that certain medications or obesity may also lower your PSA levels.
Should I have a PSA test?
PSA testing has its critics, who cite that elevated PSA levels may cause undue worry in patients. It is by no means a perfect test. However, it is the best preliminary test available and can certainly indicate whether further testing should be performed.
PSA Testing in SoCal
At the Southern California Urology Institute, Dr. Gary Bellman recommends and provides PSA testing for men. It is a simple blood test, much like you'd have to check for other underlying health conditions. No special preparation is necessary to have a PSA test.
To learn more about screening for prostate cancer, or to discuss symptoms of prostate problems, such as frequent urination, call 818.912.1899 to schedule an appointment.