Prostate specific antigen or PSA
Prostate specific antigen, commonly known as PSA, is a protein produced by the prostate gland. While the majority of PSA is ejaculated out of the body in semen, a small portion can escape into the blood stream. The PSA blood test allows urologists to screen for conditions typically associated with elevated PSA levels.
As men age, their prostate naturally grows in size. Subsequently, PSA levels will increase over time. A male between the ages of 70 and 79 can typically register 6.5 ng/mL of PSA in the blood. In comparison, a male of 20 to 29 will typically register a level of 4 ng/mL. While the normal PSA level is around 4 ng/mL, anything below 10 is generally acceptable. If a man’s PSA level is consistently or abnormally high, further evaluation is recommended.
High levels of PSA in the blood could be signalling the presence of prostate cancer. However, abnormal levels of PSA could also be the result of a prostate infection, inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), or some other pre-existing condition. Additional testing can include a digital rectal exam (DRE), Multiparametric MRI imaging, and possibly a MRI guided, targeted biopsy. The digital rectal exam is performed to check the size and shape of the prostate, while feeling for any abnormalities such as lumps.
PSA screening typically begins when men are in their fifties. As a guideline, the American Urological Association reports that men between the ages of 55 to 69 benefit most from this screening. However, for African American men, and men who have a history of prostate cancer in their family, it is suggested that PSA screening starts around the age of 40.
If you have not had PSA screening or a digital rectal exam, and are in the recommended age groups, you can contact the Urology Austin office nearest you to schedule an appointment. If you have a history of prostate cancer in your family, or have a personal history of elevated PSA levels, contact us for further evaluation.