What is the PSA test?

PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen, which is made by the prostate gland. A PSA test is a blood test that can be used to help detect prostate cancer. If your PSA is normal it is unlikely that you have prostate cancer. 

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

You may not experience any symptoms until the prostate gland is large enough to put pressure on the urine tube (urethra). These may include changes to your waterwork with difficulty starting to urinate (hesitancy), change in urine flow, blood in your urine, passing urine more frequently or at night (nocturia), feeling that your bladder has not been fully emptied or needing to rush to the toilet (urgency). Many of these symptoms may occur as the prostate enlarges because of a non-cancerous condition of the prostate (benign prostate enlargement).

What causes a raised PSA?

A raised PSA result may indicate prostate cancer but 3 out of 4 men with a raised PSA will NOT have prostate cancer (false positive result). There are several other causes for a raised PSA result including infection, recent ejaculation, benign prostate enlargement, a prostate examination within the past week or a prostate biopsy in the previous 6 weeks.

Who can have a PSA test?

There are a few factors that may increase your risk of prostate cancer such as having a positive family history of prostate cancer, black ethnic origin (the lifetime risk is 1 in 4 for men of black ethnicity compared with 1 in 8 for white men and 1 in 12 for Asian men) and obesity.  In the UK any man over 50 yrs can have a PSA test on the NHS for free, however, there is no current screening programme for prostate cancer. Under 50 yrs this should be discussed with your doctor to help determine the suitability of the test against any symptoms and risk factors. Examination of the prostate via a digital rectal examination is usually indicated to help feel for any abnormalities of the prostate gland. 

Why have a PSA test?

A negative test may help reassure you that it is unlikely you have prostate cancer. A positive PSA test may help detect early cancer before any symptoms develop, which can increase the chances of treatment outcomes. 

Are there any disadvantages?

A false positive result may lead to unnecessary more invasive tests (such as taking a sample of your prostate gland) to help exclude prostate cancer. The result may be unreliable and may not detect all prostate cancers and 1 in 7 men who have a negative result may still have prostate cancer (false negative result).

What happens after my blood test?

If your result is negative it is unlikely that you have prostate cancer but if you have troubling symptoms you may need further tests to help confirm this. 

If your PSA result is positive your GP will likely refer you to a specialist for further tests. Your specialist may arrange a more detailed scan (MRI scan) and/or decide to take a tissue sample (biopsy) of your prostate gland. 

If you have any concerns about your prostate, please discuss this with your GP so they can help determine the suitability of PSA testing and prostate examination.

If you have any concerns or questions about your prostate health or the PSA test, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and contact us via the “Book an Appointment” button. Schedule an appointment to discuss your risk factors, symptoms, and the suitability of PSA testing for your specific situation. Early detection can make a significant difference in treatment outcomes and overall prostate health.

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