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Prostate Specific Antigen

What is it?

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a blood test that helps in the early diagnosis of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers found in men. PSA is found in the blood of all men. Elevated levels of PSA in the blood help find prostate cancer in the early stage. Most prostate cancers can be found when the PSA test and a digital rectal examination (DRE) are done.

Why do I need this test?

PSA and DRE should be included in physical examinations (eks-ah-mih-NA-shuns) of men over 50 years of age. For men who have a family history of prostate cancer, PSA testing should begin at age 40. The PSA blood test is also used after prostate cancer treatment to monitor the disease.

How do I get ready for the test?

Blood for a PSA should be taken before a prostate examination or prostate surgery. Your health caregiver will tell you when it is OK to have blood taken for the test.

How is the blood collection done?

A health caregiver will put a wide rubber strap around your arm and tighten it. Your skin will be cleaned with alcohol. A small needle attached to a special test tube will be put into a vein in your arm or hand. The tube has suction to pull the blood into it. When the tube is full, the rubber strap, needle and tube are removed. The caregiver will press a piece of cotton where the needle was removed. You may be asked to hold the cotton on the site for a few minutes to help stop the bleeding. Tape may then be put over the cotton on your arm.

What do I do after the test?

You may remove the tape and cotton in about 20 to 30 minutes. Call your health caregiver to get the results of your test. Your health caregiver will explain what your test results mean for you. Follow the instructions of your health caregiver.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your lab tests. You can then discuss the results with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.