The prostate-specific antigen test is a kind of blood test which is done to diagnose prostate cancer early. Prostate-specific antigen or PSA is a protein which can be found in the blood and is produced by the prostate gland.
Despite its capability to detect prostate cancer at an early age, the PSA test may not be able to save lives. The reason behind this surprising fact is that prostate cancer grows at a very slow pace. Therefore, the test can save lives of some men and can lead to surgeries, radiation treatments unnecessarily for some. These treatments can have lifelong effects on a man’s health like causing problems with erection.
So, here are few things you must know about the test which will keep you guided.
A low PSA which is about 4 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less means that you are not suffering from prostate cancer. You must always remember that PSA tends to rise with age and considering that a higher level of PSA would indicate the presence of cancer. However, there are many other factors which influence the PSA and just one test would never suffice to determine if the person is suffering from cancer or not. Even your health care provider would suggest another test.
There are many factors like swelling in the prostate gland, an infection, or a recent ejaculation that can shoot up the PSA level. These factors are not at all associated with prostate cancer. When an increased level of PSA is shown in the reports, the next step your doctor will take is to treat you for an infection and wait for the PSA level to go down.
Even after your biopsy results are completely negative, there are chances that you may experience some psychological effects. According to a study, even after 3 months of receiving a negative report about presence of cancer, many men experienced depression and were inquisitive about finding out about cancer.
The chances of a PSA test saving a life are very slim. According to a study conducted several years ago in Europe, men aged 50 to 74 years who got PSA tests done every four years were only 20 percent less likely to die of prostate cancer than men who dint have the test done.
If you are keeping in good health and are above 75, you could easily skip PSA tests because men are likely to survive any prostate cancer at that age. According to guidelines given by ACS, only men who are expected to live 10 more years after 75 should get the test done.
Learning everything about the test can save the patient as well as a healthy person from spending a traumatic life ahead.
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