The prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test is meant to gauge the level of a protein that is produced by cells within the prostate gland. This simple blood test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood, offering potential insights into the presence of cancer and other concerns.
Over the past few years, the PSA test has stood at the center of a raging debate in the medical community over its accuracy and applicability in predicting the presence of cancer. While some organizations, such as the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, have said routine testing with the PSA is not recommended, others continue to see value in the results this test can provide.
Here are some of the more common questions related to the PSA and their answers to help men determine if this test should play a role in their medical routine:
• Is the test still recommended for screening – The answer is yes and no. Some organizations do and others do not. Regardless, it is recommended that any man who receives this blood test should be told of the potential for false positives and the ramifications that may go along with them.
• What is a normal result – There is no hard and fast rule here since PSA levels may have. It used to be that men with levels of 4.0 ng/mL would find their doctors’ alarm bells going off. Now, higher levels or levels that continue to elevate may serve as a strong indicator.
• What happens if a level is high – Generally, a doctor may recommend a second test to confirm the first. If levels are high again, other causes may be explored, such as a urinary tract infection. After that, a prostate biopsy may be recommended.
The PSA test is far from perfect, but it does offer valuable insights into a man’s health. To find out more about the test, consult with a healthcare provider. Prostate cancer is often highly treatable when it is caught in its earliest stages.