PSA or Prostate Specific Antigen is a protein produced by the prostate. Most of the PSA that the prostate produces is released into the semen, but small amounts are also released into the bloodstream. Patients with prostate cancer frequently have altered ratios of the two forms of PSA: low levels of free PSA and high levels of cPSA (PSA bound to a protein).
Prostate testing and the digital rectal exam (DRE) are ordered to screen for prostate cancer for men who are usually over the age of 40. There may be some special circumstances where your doctor will order the prostate screening test if one is showing symptoms that may lead to a suspicion of prostate cancer. If either the PSA test or the DRE are found to be abnormal, then the doctor may choose to follow the prostate testing with a prostate biopsy and perhaps imaging tests, such as an ultrasound. If the DRE is normal but the PSA test is moderately elevated, the doctor may order a free PSA test to look at the ratio of free to total PSA. This can help to distinguish between prostate cancer and other non-cancer causes of elevated PSA.
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When prostate testing, the PSA test may be ordered during treatment of patients who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer to verify the effectiveness of treatment and at regular intervals after treatment to monitor for cancer recurrence. The prostate testing concentration is measured by means of analysis of a blood sample drawn from the vein in the arm.
The purpose of prostate testing or the PSA test is to measure the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA testing level in blood) in order to screen asymptomatic and symptomatic men for prostate cancer in order to help determine the necessity for a biopsy of the prostate and also in order to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for prostate cancer, or to detect recurrence of prostate cancer. This PSA testing screen was developed as a tumor marker to screen for and to monitor for Prostate cancer. The Prostate testing screen is great tool, but not a perfect one. PSA testing levels are higher in those of African American heritage, and PSA testing levels tend to increase in all men as they age. It’s important to know that consumers can adopt direct to consumer testing by ordering PSA testing through various online websites that offer this. The turnaround on a PSA test is approximately 48 hours.
Patients with prostate testing levels greater than 10mcg/L are at an increased risk for prostate cancer. Levels between 4 and 10 may indicate prostate cancer BPH, or prostatitis. These conditions are more common in the elderly, as is a general increase in PSA testing levels.
One of the most common questions when getting a PSA test done is “Do I need to be fasting”? The answer is no. You do not need to fast for the PSA test. The test can be performed on a random blood sample. It's OK to drop off your sample as a random blood draw as it will not affect the outcome of your lab testing results.