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Prostate Specific Antigen


A prostate specific antigen (PSA) test

is a blood test used to screen men for prostate cancer. A PSA test is also used to monitor how well prostate cancer treatment is working.

Other test that may be done with a PSA test:

A digital rectal exam is usually performed with a PSA test. Your healthcare provider will insert a gloved finger into your rectum to feel if your prostate is large, firm, or has lumps.

Who may need a PSA test:

Some experts recommend a PSA test for men ages 50 to 70. They also recommend testing men with a high risk for prostate cancer at age 40 or 45. Risk factors may include being African American or having a brother or father with prostate cancer. Other experts may not recommend PSA testing. Your healthcare provider can help you decide if you need a PSA test.

What the results of a PSA test mean:

Most healthy men have a PSA level less than 4 ng/mL. If your PSA level is higher than 4 ng/mL you may need more tests. Examples include blood or urine tests, an ultrasound, MRI, CT scan, or a prostate biopsy. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on these tests.

Other causes of a high PSA level:

A high PSA level does not always mean you have prostate cancer. Certain conditions or procedures can increase PSA levels. Examples include:

  • Older age
  • Procedures such as a prostate biopsy or a cystoscopy
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Recent sexual activity
  • A prostate infection
  • Certain exercises that put pressure on the prostate such as bicycling
  • Medicine such as testosterone

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.