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Understanding elevated PSA levels.

Understanding elevated PSA levels can help alleviate a misconception that prostate cancer is always responsible. In reality, elevated PSA levels have been connected to several prostate conditions, as well as common non-medical factors. Current recommendations suggest that men should begin prostate cancer screening in their 50s. For African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer, screening should start by the age of 40.

Prostate cancer is not the only cause for elevated PSA levels.

Several non-cancerous factors can contribute to elevated PSA levels:

  • For men under 50, the most common cause is prostatitis, an infection of the prostate gland that can be bacterial or non-bacterial. Many cases of bacterial prostatitis can be cured by a regimen of antibiotics. The most common form of infection – non-bacterial prostatitis – does not respond to antibiotics.
  • Another common cause of elevated PSA levels is having a medical procedure or using a medical device. Catheterization can cause a significant jump in PSA levels, as can a simple digital rectal exam (DRE) of the prostate. After performing a DRE, it may take up to two weeks for PSA to return to pre-exam levels.
  • Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate, can also cause PSA levels to rise. This occurs as the overgrowth of prostate tissue produces more PSA.  An enlarged, non-cancerous prostate can be evaluated and treated to reduce tissue growth and eliminate bothersome symptoms.
  • Urinary tract infections irritate the prostate and can cause PSA levels to rise.
  • Age can also contribute to higher PSA levels. Normal PSA ranges will differ depending on the age group of men being screened.

While elevated PSA levels may be a useful indicator for certain conditions, it is far from the only factor that should be taken into consideration. If you have any questions or concerns about PSA levels or your prostate health, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment.

Related link

National Cancer Institute – Prostate Cancer Screening

Prostate Cancer Foundation – Patient Guide

Harvard Medical School – Prostate cancer risk in African Americans