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PSA Specialist

Urological Associates

Urologists located in Charlottesville, VA

About 85% of prostate cancers are detected before you have symptoms, using a PSA test and a routine digital rectal exam. The doctors at Urological Associates have extensive experience screening for prostate cancer and providing advanced treatments that produce optimal results. If you develop urinary problems or have questions, call the office in Charlottesville, Virginia, or schedule an appointment online.


What is PSA?

PSA is a prostate-specific antigen, which is a protein that’s produced by normal and cancerous cells in the prostate gland. Blood tests to check PSA levels were originally done to monitor the progression of prostate cancer. Now the test is used together with a digital rectal exam (DRE) to screen for prostate cancer.

When might I need a PSA test?

Although a PSA test is often used to screen for prostate cancer, your doctor may order the test to help diagnose benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate. In some cases, a high PSA test may be a sign of prostatitis.

Your doctor may also order a PSA test to determine whether treatment for prostate cancer has been effective or to check for recurring cancer.

What symptoms might I develop if I have prostate cancer?

The symptoms of prostate cancer depend on where the cancer is located in the prostate and the size of the tumor. In the early stages, you may not have any symptoms. As the cancer grows, you’ll experience one or more of the following symptoms:

Urinary symptoms:

  • Frequent urination, often at night
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Weak urine flow
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in your urine

Erectile and ejaculatory symptoms:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in your semen
  • Less ejaculate

Lower body symptoms:

  • Pain or stiffness in your lower back, hips, or thighs
  • Swelling in your legs
  • Pain in your legs

Urinary symptoms are typically the earliest signs of prostate problems, but they don’t always mean you have cancer. You’ll also have trouble urinating or need to urinate frequently if you have an enlarged prostate.

What happens if my PSA levels are high?

If your PSA levels are high but you don’t have other symptoms, your doctor at Urological Associates may closely monitor your health, ordering additional PSA tests and performing DREs at regular intervals to watch for changes.

If your PSA levels continue to rise, or a suspicious lump is detected during a DRE, your doctor recommends additional tests, such as ultrasound, X-rays, or a cystoscopy, to examine the inside of your bladder.

When your doctor suspects cancer, the next step is a prostate biopsy. After collecting samples of prostate tissue using a hollow needle, the tissues are examined under a microscope to determine whether cancer is present.

If you develop urinary problems or erectile dysfunction, book an appointment online or call Urological Associates.