Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein that is produced in the prostate gland.
Let's talk about where PSA is produced, what is does and why people test it.
What is prostate specific antigen? (PSA)
PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen. PSA is a protein that is produced in the prostate, a small gland that sits just below a man’s bladder. PSA levels are determined through a blood test and an elevation may suggest the presence of prostate cancer. The test is not, however, prostate cancer specific.
PSA is mainly found in semen but a small volume of PSA circulates in the blood-stream, which is why blood tests may be used to test levels of PSA in the body.
PSA is a chemical that appears in a man’s bloodstream at higher levels when the prostate gland is enlarged or cancerous. Although not a definite diagnosis of prostate cancer, a higher than normal PSA level can be a significant sign that something is not quite right and further testing might be required.
Men need to make an informed decision for themselves whether or not to have their PSA tested.
PSA is produced by cancerous and non-cancerous tissues in the prostate and may be indicative of prostate cancer.
What is PSA testing?
PSA testing involves a blood test. PSA testing has traditionally been used to rule out prostate cancer, however it is important to note that levels of PSA in the body can arise for several reasons that are not related to cancer.
If you receive out of range test results it does not offer a definitive cancer diagnosis. PSA levels may be affected by a number of factors, including but not limited to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a swollen prostate, a urinary tract infection (UTI), recent ejaculation or prostatitis (swollen or infected prostate).
Elevated levels of PSA are often a side effect of ageing, as the level of protein produced in the prostate gland increases over time.
PSA tests that examine the blood can detect your level of PSA which may indicate that you should attend further screening, however, what an elevated PSA test reading might truly mean can be complicated.
Since the early 1990s, PSA testing has been one of the most common screening methods for prostate cancer.
Today, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in the United States. Men are 33% times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer between the ages of 50 and 75, however, the American Cancer Association states that under certain circumstances, men should begin screening earlier.
You should consider PSA testing if:
- You have a family history of prostate cancer
- You are over the age of 45
- You have been diagnosed with prostatitis
- You have been diagnosed with prostatic hyperplasia
- You are living with erectile dysfunction
- You are on medication for cholesterol, urinary issues, low testosterone or high blood pressure
- You are overweight or obsese
If you have concerns around your risk of developing prostate cancer,it’s good to know that you can now take an at home PSA test to get your prostate cancer screening process started. With LetsGetChecked, results are available within days with on-going support from our medical team.
Written by Dr. Robert Mordkin | Edited by Hannah Kingston