Back to Oncology Labs
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is present in low concentrations in
the blood of all adult males. It is produced by both normal and
abnormal prostate cells. Elevated PSA levels may be found in the blood
of men with benign prostate conditions, such as prostatitis
(inflammation of the prostate) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH),
or with a malignant (cancerous) growth in the prostate. While PSA does
not allow doctors to distinguish between benign prostate conditions
(which are very common in older men) and cancer, an elevated PSA level
may indicate that other tests are necessary to determine whether
cancer is present.
PSA levels have been shown to be useful in monitoring the
prostate cancer treatment, and in checking for
recurrence after treatment has ended. In checking for recurrence, a
single test may show a mildly elevated PSA level, which may not be a
significant change. Doctors generally look for trends, such as
steadily increasing PSA levels in multiple tests over time, rather
than focusing on a single elevated result.
Researchers are studying the value of PSA in screening men for
prostate cancer (checking for the disease in men who have no
symptoms). At this time, it is not known whether using PSA to screen
for prostate cancer actually saves lives. The National Cancer
Institute-supported Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer
Screening Trial is designed to show whether the use of certain
screening tests can reduce the number of deaths caused by those
cancers. For prostate cancer, this trial is looking at the usefulness
of regular screening using digital rectal exams and PSA level checks
in men ages 55 to 74.
Researchers are also working on new ways to increase the accuracy of
PSA tests. Improving the accuracy of PSA tests could help doctors
distinguish BPH from
prostate cancer, and thereby avoid unnecessary follow up procedures, including biopsies.
Are you a doctor or a nurse?
Do you want to join the Doctors Lounge online medical community?
Participate in editorial activities (publish, peer review, edit) and
give a helping hand to the largest online community of patients.
Click on the link below to see the requirements:
Doctors Lounge Membership