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Prostate Cancer Screening – PSA Testing

Prostate cancer screening includes a test to measure the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. Elevated PSA levels are often an early indication of prostate cancer as well as other prostate disorders. The PSA test helps to assess the risk of prostate cancer.

PSA is a protein produced by normal, as well as malignant, cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. For this test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood.

The blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer, and the PSA test was originally approved by the FDA in 1986 to monitor the progression of prostate cancer in men who had already been diagnosed with the disease. Men who report prostate symptoms often undergo PSA testing (along with a DRE) to help doctors determine the nature of the problem.

In addition to prostate cancer, a number of benign (not cancerous) conditions can cause a man’s PSA level to rise. The most frequent benign prostate conditions that cause an elevation in PSA level are prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (enlargement of the prostate). There is no evidence that prostatitis or BPH leads to prostate cancer, but it is possible for a man to have one or both of these conditions and to develop prostate cancer as well.

If you have an elevated PSA test, your urologist may recommend further evaluation and diagnostic testing including a prostate biopsy. Talk to your physician if you have concerns or questions about your PSA test.

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