A routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is essential to maintaining your reproductive health as a man. Prostate glands secrete PSA, a protein used by both normal and abnormal (cancerous) cells.
The test measures the levels of PSA in your blood to understand your risk of prostate cancer and other prostatic conditions. Your PSA levels help our team detect prostate cancer early, allowing you to begin treatment quickly.
Our board-certified providers at Urological Associates use this simple blood test to diagnose prostate conditions for men in Charlottesville, Virginia. These conditions include benign prostatic hyperplasia, enlarged prostate, infections, and prostate cancer.
What’s more? If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, regular PSA tests can track the progression of the disease and the effectiveness of treatments.
PSA levels can be confusing, but they don’t have to be. We’ve gathered information about a PSA test, who needs it, and how to understand your results. Keep reading to find out more.
When to get a PSA test
The best way to find out if you need to get a PSA test is by talking to our team at Urological Associates. There are general guidelines that recommend beginning PSA screenings at age 55, but you may need one sooner depending on certain factors, such as:
- Having a family history of prostate cancer
- Being a black male since your risk for more aggressive types of cancer is increased
After age 55, the frequency of routine PSA testing is based on many factors. These include your current age, results of previous PSA tests, and any existing prostate conditions.
Usually, men get tested every 2-3 years. However, based on your results and unique situation, our team may recommend more or less frequent testing.
Understanding PSA scores
Determining if your results are normal or abnormal involves considering many factors. These include your age and the existence of any urinary, ejaculatory, erectile, and lower body symptoms, as well as the size of your prostate. Here’s what you should know.
Men in their 40s and 50s
Your levels are considered abnormal if your PSA score exceeds 2.5 ng/ml. For this age range, the median PSA is 0.6 to 0.7 ng/ml.
Men in their 60s
Your levels are considered abnormal if your PSA score is greater than 4.0 ng/ml. 1.0 to 1.5 ng/ml is the normal range for this age.
If your PSA score rises a certain amount in a year, it may be considered abnormal. The amount depends on your situation, but for example, we may recommend more testing if your score rises more than 0.35 ng/ml in one year.
Implications of PSA test results
Though many men assume high PSA levels automatically mean prostate cancer, it could also mean you have a different condition impacting your prostate. These conditions include:
- Enlarged prostate
- Prostate infarction
- Prostatitis (inflammation)
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia
Treatment is more effective when any of these prostate conditions are detected and treated early on. We may require additional tests to confirm your diagnosis and develop your treatment plan.
You may need a biopsy if your PSA tests indicate prostate cancer is highly likely. Your Urology Associates provider takes small tissue samples for analysis. When caught early, the outcome of prostate cancer is excellent. Treatment may involve watchful waiting, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, or removal of part or all of your prostate gland.
If you want to learn more about PSA tests and whether you need to add them to your regular health routine, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at Urological Associates in Charlottesville, Virginia.