Valley Urology Center
Urologists located in Renton, WA
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing can increase your chances of diagnosing prostate cancer before symptoms arise. In Renton, Washington, the experienced Valley Urology Center team offers innovative and noninvasive diagnostic tools to identify a wide range of urological conditions, including prostate cancer. For more information on men’s health screenings and PSA testing if you’re in western Washington or the Pacific Northwest, call Valley Urology Center or schedule an appointment online today.
Prostate Specific Antigen Q & A
What is prostate-specific antigen testing?
Prostate-specific antigen testing is a prostate cancer screening tool that measures PSA in your blood.
A man’s prostate gland surrounds their urethra underneath the bladder and makes sex hormones and seminal fluid to nourish and transport semen. It also produces PSA. Most of your PSA is in your semen, but your blood contains trace amounts as well.
The majority of healthy men who don’t have prostate cancer can expect to have PSA levels below 4 nanograms per milliliter of blood. When PSA levels rise, they can indicate a higher risk of prostate cancer.
Most men should begin having regular men’s health exams that include PSA and digital rectal screenings when they turn 50. If you have a family history or higher risks of prostate cancer, your urologist may recommend regular PSA screenings as early as 40 years of age.
What can cause higher than normal PSA levels?
Having PSA levels that are higher than normal doesn’t guarantee a prostate cancer diagnosis. Several other factors can affect PSA levels in your blood, including:
- Growing older
- Prostatitis (an infected or inflamed prostate)
- An enlarged prostate
- Certain urologic procedures
- Taking certain medications
You might also experience elevated PSA levels if you’ve recently ejaculated. To ensure accurate measurements, you should avoid ejaculating in the days leading up to your blood test. There’s evidence that riding a bicycle can temporarily increase your PSA levels as well.
It’s also possible to have PSA levels lower than average. This can occur if you’re considerably overweight or taking certain medications, like diuretics, statins, and aspirin. It’s also possible for over-the-counter herbal supplements and medications treating urinary issues or enlarged prostate to decrease your PSA levels.
What happens if my PSA level is high?
Having high PSA levels isn’t always a problem because these numbers can fluctuate. If your numbers are high after your initial test, your urologist may recommend a recheck in one to two months. They might also suggest a digital rectal exam (DRE) to physically check for prostate abnormalities.
Based on your PSA levels and DRE, your urologist may order additional screenings to identify the cause of your elevated numbers, including:
- Urine testing for infection
- Imaging tests like X-rays, cystoscopy, or transrectal ultrasound
- Prostate biopsy
Only about 25% of men with elevated PSA levels who get a prostate biopsy receive a prostate cancer diagnosis.
To learn more about prostate-specific antigen testing, call Valley Urology Center or schedule an appointment online today.
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