Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)

What is it?

PSA stands for prostate specific androgen and is a protein that is secreted solely by the prostate, a small organ located below the bladder. A PSA blood test may be checked by your urologist or primary physician as part of a normal yearly check-up or if your physician is concerned that you might have a problem with your prostate. In addition, the PSA test is one way that men are evaluated for possible cancer that can develop in the prostate.

Why is my PSA abnormal?

PSA is not a test specific to prostate cancer and an abnormal or elevated value does not necessarily indicate prostate cancer. The PSA can be elevated in several benign problems of the prostate:

  • Benign prostate enlargement
  • Infection (prostatitis, bacterial cystitis/bladder infection)
  • Manipulation/trauma-recent prostate surgery, cycling, trauma to groin
  • Ejaculation within a few days of the test
  • Age-there is a normal increase of PSA with age

How do I know if I have prostate cancer?

In the past, prostate cancer was diagnosed after the patient had significant urinary symptoms or blood in the urine. However, these symptoms are not specific to prostate cancer and can also be a sign of benign prostate enlargement. Your urologist or primary physician may suggest they perform a prostate cancer screening examination which consists of a digital rectal examination to assess the prostate for any abnormal features-nodules, firmness, or asymmetry.

How is it diagnosed?

After careful discussion of your prostate cancer risk factors, your urologist may suggest a prostate biopsy, the only way to diagnose prostate cancer and obtain a biopsy of prostate tissue. This is typically done in the office. In addition, you physician may obtain additional imaging like an MRI to help focus the biopsy or suggest an MRI Fusion biopsy.

How is it treated?

If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, your physician can help guide you through your various treatments options.