A man’s prostate is located just below the bladder and surrounds the tube that helps urine to pass through the body. A healthy prostate is generally just slightly larger than a walnut. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein made by prostate cells that keeps semen liquified so sperm can swim. Cancerous and noncancerous cells make PSA; however, the cancerous cells tend to produce more PSA, and some excrete into the bloodstream. As a result, men with prostate cancer usually have higher PSA levels.
However, higher PSA levels do not always indicate prostate cancer in a patient. Sometimes, elevated PSA levels can be caused by an enlarged prostate / Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (BPH) or an infection of the prostate.
Additionally, an increase in PSA levels could be caused by:
- Intense physical activity related to the prostate (i.e. bicycle riding)
- Large doses of chemotherapy drugs
- A resection of the prostate
- A biopsy of the prostate gland
Combined, a PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam (DRE) provide the clearest ways to detect prostate cancer.
When should someone get their PSA levels checked?
It’s critical that a patient understands his individual risk factors. The timeline varies by the patient; however, the American Cancer Society recommends an annual PSA at:
- 50 years old: men who do not have major health problems.
- 45 years old: men at high risk for prostate cancer, including Black men and men with a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
- 40 years old: men with very high risk, including more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age
Treatment of Elevated PSA Levels
If a patient’s PSA levels are elevated, a urologist can conduct further tests to determine what is causing the higher levels. From there, each patient will want to devise a course of action with their family and physician to treat whatever the underlying condition causing the elevated PSA levels.
If you’re 50 or over, or if you have family risk factors or are experiencing prostate discomfort, it’s important to schedule a PSA test as soon as possible. The expert team at Avant Concierge Urology has decades of experience in working with patients who have elevated PSA levels, and we’re ready to help you determine the root cause so we can begin treating it together.
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