PSA, also known as Prostate-specific antigen, is a protein produced by cells in the prostate gland; a small gland that sits below the bladder in men.

A PSA test is used to measure the levels of PSA in a man’s blood. When high levels are detected, it may indicate the presence of prostate cancer though there are many other conditions that increase PSA levels, including [1]:

  • Enlarged prostate
  • Older age
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  • Prostatitis

See also: Do Elevated PSA Levels Mean Prostate Cancer?


What is a high PSA level?


There isn’t a particular PSA level that’s deemed ‘normal’ as levels can vary over time. With that said, most medical experts in the past note that PSA levels of 4.0 ng/mL and lower are normal while levels above 4.0 ng/mL may require a prostate biopsy to determine the underlying cause and confirm whether or not prostate cancer is present [2].

It’s important to remember that prostate cancer isn’t always the underlying reason for high PSA levels, as previously mentioned, there are many conditions and factors that can cause your levels to fluctuate.


What affects PSA levels?


Elevated PSA levels can be a result of a number of conditions and risk factors. Some of the most common factors that can cause a man’s PSA levels to fluctuate include:


Benign prostatic hyperplasia


Benign prostate enlargement is the medical term used to describe an enlarged prostate. This condition can affect how you urinate. It’s important to note that having an enlarged prostate doesn’t increase your risk of prostate cancer [2].

Common symptoms of benign prostate enlargement include:

  • Difficulty starting to pee
  • A frequent need to pee
  • Difficulty fully emptying your bladder

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)


Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are common infections that can affect different parts of your urinary tract; this includes the bladder, urethra or kidneys. UTIs are not as common in men as they are in women - it’s estimated that only one in every 2,000 men will develop a UTI every year [3].

Common symptoms of UTIs include:

  • Needing to pee suddenly or more often than usual
  • Pain or a burning sensation when peeing
  • Smelly or cloudy urine

Prostatitis


Prostatitis is the name given to the inflammation and swelling of the prostate gland. It affects men of all ages though it tends to be more common in men 50 and younger [4].

Common symptoms of prostatitis include:

  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Difficulty urinating, such as dribbling or hesitant urination
  • Frequent urination, particularly at night

See also: What Causes Inflammation In The Prostate Gland?


Age


Aside from your PSA levels, medical professionals will consider a number of factors when evaluating your results - age being one of them. The reason being simple, as you age, it’s natural for your PSA levels to fluctuate [5].


Prostate cancer


Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer. Many men with early prostate cancer may experience no symptoms at all which is why early and regular screening is so important. If symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • An increased need to pee
  • Straining while you pee
  • A feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied

If you have any concerns about prostate cancer, it’s important to speak with your doctor.

A PSA test is one of the most reliable ways to measure your PSA levels. You can take this test by visiting your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home PSA Test can help detect signs of prostate cancer in the blood. Raised levels may indicate prostate cancer though they may also indicate non-cancerous enlargement or inflammation of the prostate. Your online results will be available within 5 days and our dedicated medical team will be with you every step of the way to answer any questions you may have.

You should consider taking the test if:

  • You are over the age of 50
  • You have a strong family history of prostate cancer
  • You are overweight or obese

See also: What Causes Inflammation In The Prostate Gland?



References

  1. National Cancer Institute. Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test. Online: Cancer.gov, 2017
  2. National Cancer Institute. Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test. Online: Cancer.gov, 2017