The PSA test s becoming more popular with men over 40 and could save your life. Here we will look at prostrate cancer and the test and how it could help you.
What is PSA?
PSA is prostate specific antigen. PSA is a protease (protein) secreted the prostate gland. Its levels in the blood are elevated in men with both benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. PSA is now an accepted and routine screening test for prostate cancer.
The PSA Test
PSA presence in the blood is very low, so its detection requires a very sensitive type of technology.
The test uses the monoclonal antibody technique. The PSA protein exists both in the blood by itself, and joined with other substances. By itself, it is free PSA, and joined with other substances, bound PSA.
The term ‘Total PSA’ is the total both forms. The PSA test gives the result of the Total PSA
Results of the PSA Test
The highest normal level of Total PSA is 4 nanograms per milliliter, or ng/mL. Statistics show men’s prostate gland will generally increases in size and produces more PSA with increasing age. Therefore aging has a great role in the actual results of the test. However, doctors would be concerned with anyone who had a result of over 4.5 ng/mL, and would generally do a biopsy to determine physically if cancer were present
Specific Use of the PSA Test for Cancer
Doctors are using the PSA test now in two ways. First as a screening test to determine elevated PSA levels (which might indicate cancer, but can also indicate other conditions as well), or as a monitor test for those who are known to have prostate cancer.
With the screening technique, any increased levels over 4.5 ng/mL require further investigation. As a monitoring test, high levels of PSA can indicate the growing or reducing threat of cancer.
However an abnormal result also can indicate a recurrence of prostate cancer following therapy.
For example, in men with a surgically removed prostate gland (prostatectomy), where all of the cancer was contained, a PSA test should result in 0. However, if in these men the PSA test is positive or shows increasing levels, it shows the cancer was not successfully removed and / or it has spread.
PSA Also Can Show Non-Cancerous Conditions
The PSA test result can indicate conditions other than cancer.
Often a higher PSA test result indicates benign prostatic hypertrophy, which his enlargement or hyperplasia of the prostate gland. These conditions are due to an increase aging in certain men.
Also infection of the prostate gland, known as prostatitis, will cause an abnormal elevation of PSA.
There are other conditions also which can result in higher levels of PSA that are non-cancerous.
In each case however, the doctor will first perform a biopsy to determine if cancer cells are present. The Free PSA Test
Free PSA in the blood exists as well as bound PSA, and there is now a test for Free PSA. Studies have shown that levels of free PSA decrease in men with prostate cancer.
The Free PSA levels in men with benign conditions will not decrease. Levels of Free PSA differ from test procedure to test procedure, but in any case, it is a good indication of the presence of cancer if the levels are shown to be decreasing.
Who Should Test for PSA
Any many over 40 years old now should test for PSA. Every man over 50 must test for PSA to insure that if there is a problem, it can be treated early. Consult your physician if this article concerns you.
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