The PSA Test For Prostate Cancer
The PSA test for prostate cancer is an important tool in understanding prostate cancer risk. Equally, it frequently does not provide a clear picture and in isolation, may raise anxiety for the patient.
At the Birmingham Prostate Clinic, we maintain that the PSA test is very valuable, provided it is considered by an experienced specialist along with the range of other assessments for prostate cancer which we use, including the genetics based PCA3 test and advanced imaging technology. This enables us to provide our patients with the most personalised and accurate assessment, identifying cancer but also avoiding unnecessary biopsy.
What is PSA?
PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen, a protein made by the prostate which naturally leaks into the bloodstream when the prostate is damaged.
A simple blood test can be taken to measure levels of PSA, and a high reading indicates prostate cancer may be present.
However, a raised PSA can also be caused by a non life-threatening condition called an enlarged prostate or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
“Risk of prostate cancer is assessed by taking a number of different factors into account as well as PSA level,” says Mr Doherty.
“We consider the patient’s age, family history, previous PSA tests and carry out an examination of his prostate.
“PSA results are notoriously difficult to interpret and it is important for patients to receive their PSA results during a consultation with a doctor, who is able to explain what the results mean and discuss what steps should be taken.
A raised PSA result is not a diagnosis of prostate cancer but an indication that the patient may be at risk and require further investigations.
The Birmingham Prostate Clinic advises men over the age of 50 to have regular PSA measurements and keep a record of these readings.
We offer patients a PSA record card to keep this information, enabling urologists to see how the PSA is behaving over a period of time.
Further tests will be undertaken including a digital rectal examination of the prostate, prostate volume measurement (using ultrasound), the genetics based PCA3 test and pre-biopsy MRI. It is also very important to consider family history, because if you have a first degree relative who has had prostate cancer, your individual prostate cancer risk increases.
”The PSA test is not the only tool in our assessment of prostate cancer risk. To understand your personal risk fully, we use the PCA3 test, pre-biopsy prostate MRI and ultrasound, combined with the PSA, for a full and precise understanding.”