The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening is a test conducted to measure
the levels of PSA protein in the blood and check for signs of prostate
cancer. According to The American Cancer Society, one in six American
men are diagnosed with the prostate cancer every year, which is why regular
screenings are encouraged. To promote early detection and proactive health,
doctors recommend individuals get screened around the age of 50 or 45
if the person is at a higher risk for the cancer.
So, you get your results back from your PSA test—what happens if
your PSA numbers are too high? Well, first, it’s important to understand
what would be considered a high number. According to the experts, PSA
levels of 4.0 ng/mL or lower are normal amongst healthy men. If it is
higher, your doctor may recommend you take action. Before you start worrying,
remember that high PSA levels do not always mean prostate cancer.
Common reasons why PSA levels may be high:
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) – BPH is a condition where the prostate gland becomes enlarged, creating
more cells, which increase PSA levels. Often, treatment is not necessary
unless it negatively affects urination.
Age – Even if you don’t have a history of prostate cancer, your
PSA levels naturally increase as you age.
Prostatitis – Prostatitis is common inflammation of the prostate, which can increase
your PSA levels. However, in most cases, antibiotics can clear it up.
Urinary Tract Infection – Any infection near the prostate gland can aggravate the prostate
cells, causing your PSA levels to go up. If you have a urinary tract infection,
wait until it clears up before having a PSA screening done.
While there are non-cancerous reasons for having elevated PSA numbers,
it is important to take them seriously, nonetheless. Talk to your doctor
about what this means for your health. Often, if the test results show
high PSA levels, the doctor will usually order another PSA test to confirm
the original finding. If the number is still high, other imaging tests—transrectal
ultrasounds, cystoscopies, or x-rays—may be ordered. Many physicians
also use alternates to PSA testing.
Common Alternatives to PSA Testing
If tests and assessments find the increased number of PSA suggests cancer,
doctors will order a prostate biopsy to confirm. At Alaska Urological
Institute, our skilled doctors and urologists have extensive training
and experience working with prostate health. We utilize state of the art
technology and innovative methods for diagnosis and treatments. Call today
to learn more about our services and how we can help you!
PSA Velocity – While PSA velocity is not a separate test, it is a way doctors
can monitor the change of PSA levels over time. If your PSA number rises
more than .75 ng/mL in a year, this might suggest cancer is present.
PSA Density – Doctors may adjust PSA levels to how large a prostate is. Density
is measured when the prostate is larger than average.
Percentage of Free PSA – PSA moves in the blood in two major forms – bound to blood
proteins or circulating freely. The percent-free PSA test monitors how
much PSA is moving freely. Men with prostate cancer tend to have lower
levels of free PSA.