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PSA Test

Man having his blood drawn by healthcare provider.
PSA is a simple blood test.

The PSA (prostate specific antigen) test is a blood test. It may help find prostate cancer. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. It's normal for some PSA to leak from the prostate into the blood. But sometimes, changes in the prostate cause a higher than normal amount of PSA in the blood. The PSA test measures the amount of PSA in the blood. If the test shows high blood level of PSA, other tests may be needed to help find the cause.

Possible causes of increased PSA

Many things can cause extra PSA to enter the blood, such as:

  • Enlarged prostate that does not have cancer (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH)

  • Prostate biopsy

  • Prostate cancer

  • Prostate infection (prostatitis)

  • Prostate massage

  • Recent ejaculation

Why a PSA test is done

A PSA test may be done to screen for prostate cancer. But this test can’t tell for sure whether a man has prostate cancer. Based on scientific research, not all healthcare providers agree whether all men should have PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises men to talk with their healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening. (Screening is looking for cancer in people who have no signs of it.) Talk with your healthcare provider about the PSA test if you are ages 55 to 69, or sooner if you are at higher risk for prostate cancer. You're at higher risk if you have a family history of prostate cancer or you are African American. You may also be at increased risk if you were exposed to Agent Orange.

How a PSA test is done

You will have your blood drawn for the PSA test. The test may be done in the healthcare provider’s office or at a lab, clinic, or hospital. Blood is taken from your arm and sent to a lab to be tested.

Getting your results

The time it takes to get your test results varies. Your healthcare provider can tell you when to expect your results. You and your provider will discuss the results together. A normal range for your PSA depends on things such as:

  • Your age

  • The size of your prostate

  • Your risk factors for cancer

  • Your symptoms

  • Past PSA test results

All of these things are taken into account when your PSA tests numbers are checked.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 1/1/2020
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