The PSA is normally present in the blood but at very low amount. Increased PSA levels in the blood is observed in men with prostate cancer, prostatitis (prostate inflammation), and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, prostate enlargement).To rule out prostitis and BPH, other diagnostic tools like digital rectal exam and prostate biopsy are ordered. In digital rectal exam, a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to reach the prostate. He will feel or press the prostate to find if it is enlarged or has abnormal lumps. Prostate biopsy involves the removal of small tissue from the prostate gland to be examined. This procedure confirms the presence of cancer.
Family history of prostate cancer is also a risk factor. Having a brother or father with prostate cancer increases the chance of a person of developing prostate cancer.
Doctors also use PSA velocity to detect prostate cancer. PSA velocity is the change in PSA levels over time. A rapid rise in PSA may indicate the presence of prostate cancer. To determine PSA velocity, a person is required to have periodic PSA test.
PSA-lowering agents such as BPH treatment and dietary supplements for prostate health may mask the presence of cancer. Moreover, obese men tend to have lower PSA levels.
There are several risk factors that increase a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer. These risk factors are taken into consideration when a physician recommends screening to his/her male patients.
Because normal PSA levels seem to increase with age, doctors use age-specific ranges to evaluate the result of PSA test. According to WebMD, the normal total prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is 0-2.5 ng/mL for men age 40-49; 0-3.5 ng/mL for men age 50-59; 0-4.5 ng/mL for men age 60-69; and 0-6.5 mL for men 70-79 years old.
Sixty three percent of prostate cancer cases occur in men age 65 and older; this makes age a common risk factor for prostate cancer. Doctors advise men 65 and older to get PSA test annually. Some doctors even recommend PSA test to people younger than 65 especially those at high risk.
High PSA leves doesn’t mean that a person has prostate cancer. Blood PSA can be raised by prostate inflammation (prostitis) and prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH). Diagnostic procedures like digital rectal examination and prostate biopsy are needed to determine the presence of cancer.
PSA test may also give false-positive result. A person with high PSA level does not automatically mean that he has cancer. In fact, about 75% of men who get biopsy after a positive PSA test don’t have prostate cancer.