• The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test.
• The PSA test can be useful for detecting prostate cancer, monitoring its treatment, or assessing its recurrence.
• The PSA test can also be abnormal with a benign enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), inflammation or infection of the prostate gland (prostatitis), urinary tract infection, following catheterization or instrumentation (cystoscopy) and digital rectal examination.
• PSA is a chemical that is produced by both cancerous and non-cancerous prostate tissues.
• American Cancer Society statistics indicate that prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, except for skin cancer, and is the third leading cause of cancer death in men. Both the disease and its treatment may have a significant impact on men’s health. Thus, accurate screening tools to detect clinically significant prostate cancer are needed.
• The trade-off of PSA testing is that although PSA testing increases prostate cancer detection and advances diagnosis by five to six years on average, approximately 25% of screen-detected cases reflect overdiagnosis with the potential risk of overtreatment.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a substance produced only by specific cells within the male prostate gland. Biochemically, it belongs to the protease family of kallikrein and is also known as human kallikrein 3 (hK3). The prostate releases PSA into the semen, where it acts to liquefy the semen following ejaculation. Most of the PSA produced by the prostate gland is carried out of the body in semen, but a tiny amount escapes into the bloodstream, so PSA is generally found in low amounts (nanograms per milliliter or ng/mL) in the blood. PSA has also been found in some breast tissue in women, although these amounts of PSA are very low.
• If the PSA level is high for your age or is steadily increasing (with or without an abnormal physical exam), further investigation, namely a prostate biopsy, may be recommended. The health care provider should consider other health risk factors of prostate cancer, such as family history, prostate volume, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), urinary symptoms, rectal exam findings, ethnicity, and medications are taking before recommending the biopsy. Currently, prostate biopsy for pathology review is the only way to determine if prostate cancer or other abnormal cells are present in the prostate.
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