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Lab Work For Prostate Cancer

What Are Normal Psa Levels

Blood test for prostate cancer

Thereâs no such thing as a normal PSA for any man at any given age, but most men with prostate cancer have a higher than normal level. In general:

If your PSA results are in the borderline range , the % free PSA can be useful in helping distinguish between prostate cancer or benign prostatic hyperplasia . The pattern is the opposite of that seen with PSA in that a high % free PSAâabove 20%âpoints to BPH, while a %- free PSA less than 10% indicates a greater likelihood of cancer.

The Test Is Often Not Needed

Most men with high PSAs dont have prostate cancer. Their high PSAs might be due to:

  • An enlarged prostate gland.
  • Recent sexual activity.
  • A recent, long bike ride.

Up to 25% of men with high PSAs may have prostate cancer, depending on age and PSA level. But most of these cancers do not cause problems. It is common for older men to have some cancer cells in their prostate glands. These cancers are usually slow to grow. They are not likely to spread beyond the prostate. They usually dont cause symptoms, or death.

Studies show that routine PSA tests of 1,000 men ages 55 to 69 prevent one prostate cancer death. But the PSA also has risks.

What Is Screening For Prostate Cancer

Some men get a PSA test to screen for prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor, learn what is involved, and decide if a PSA test is right for you.

Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if not treated, and to find them early before they spread.

If you are thinking about being screened, learn about the possible benefits and harms of screening, diagnosis, and treatment, and talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors.

There is no standard test to screen for prostate cancer. Two tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer are described below.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Treatment

The possible side effects will vary depending on the type and extent of your treatment. Some possible side effects include impotence, loss of sexual desire, difficulty controlling urination, inflammation of the rectum, fatigue, and hot flashes. Your doctor will discuss the possible side effects of your treatment with you in detail.

Speak with your healthcare provider about prostate cancer screening, including the prostate-specific antigen blood test, or learn more about the “POP” Prostate On-Site Project’s Mobile Prostate Cancer Screening.

Genetic Testing For Some Men With Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer treatment could get boost from DNA blood test

Some doctors now recommend that some men with prostate cancer be tested to look for certain inherited gene changes. This includes men in whom a family cancer syndrome is suspected, as well as men with prostate cancer that has certain high-risk features or that has spread to other parts of the body. Talk to your doctor about the possible pros, cons, and limitations of such testing.

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Other Factors That Influence Psa Levels

The PSA blood test alone cannot diagnose prostate cancer. It is possible, although rare, to have prostate cancer without raised PSA levels in the blood. A higher-than-normal PSA level doesnt automatically indicate prostate cancer either. A high PSA level is due to cancer in around one in three cases.

PSA levels can be raised by other factors, including:

  • , also known as benign prostatic enlargement .

For this reason, the PSA blood test isnt used in isolation when checking for prostate cancer.

What Does A High Psa Level Mean

High PSA levels could be a sign of prostate cancer or a different condition like prostatitis or an enlarged prostate.

Other things can affect your PSA level:

  • Age. Your PSA will normally go up slowly as you get older, even if you have no prostate problems.
  • Medications. Some drugs may affect blood PSA levels. Tell your doctor if youâre taking dutasteride or finasteride . These drugs may falsely lower PSA levels by half of what they should be.

If your PSA level is high, your doctor may suggest that you get a prostate biopsy to test for cancer.

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Should I Have A Psa Test

If you have no symptoms of prostate cancer and are thinking about having a PSA test, you should ask your doctor about the risks and benefits.

While some studies suggest PSA reduces mortality on a population basis, the test picks up large numbers of cancers that would have caused no symptoms or harm in the patient. This is known as overdiagnosis. Overdiagnosis of prostate cancer can lead to unnecessary treatments that have side effects such as sexual impotence, urinary incontinence and bowel problems.

It is important to balance the potential benefit of detecting a prostate cancer early against the risk that detection and treatment may not be necessary. Treatment may affect your lifestyle but it may also save your life.

Make your own decision about whether to be tested after a discussion with your doctor. Ensure you get good quality information to make an informed decision.

Screening tests for breast, bowel and cervical cancer can save lives, but there is still confusion around PSA testing for prostate cancer. Find more information here.

Remember, if you have any concerns or questions, please contact your doctor.

Prostate Cancer: Advancements In Screenings

Routine Bloodwork Leads to Prostate Cancer Diagnosis | Kaiser Permanente

You may know thatprostate canceris one of the most common cancer types in men. The good news is that thereare many treatment and management options, even if the cancer is caught ata later stage.

What you may not know: There are several options when it comes toprostate cancer screening. After considering multiple factors, your doctor may recommend theprostate-specific antigen test, and/or one of the newer screeningtests that are now available.

Johns Hopkins urologistChristian Pavlovich, M.D., explains what you should know.

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What Is Done If A Screening Test Shows An Elevated Psa Level

If someone who has no symptoms of prostate cancer chooses to undergo prostate cancer screening and is found to have an elevated PSA level, the doctor may recommend another PSA test to confirm the original finding. If the PSA level is still high, the doctor may recommend that the person continue with PSA tests and digital rectal exams at regular intervals to watch for any changes over time .

If the PSA level continues to rise or a suspicious lump is detected during a DRE, the doctor may recommend additional tests to determine the nature of the problem. These may include imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging or high-resolution micro-ultrasound.

Alternatively, the doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy. During this procedure, multiple samples of prostate tissue are collected by inserting hollow needles into the prostate and then withdrawing them. The biopsy needle may be inserted through the wall of the rectum or through the perineum . A pathologist then examines the collected tissue under a microscope. Although both biopsy techniques are guided by ultrasound imaging so the doctor can view the prostate during the biopsy procedure, ultrasound cannot be used alone to diagnose prostate cancer. An MRI-guided biopsy may be performed for patients with suspicious areas seen on MRI.

Pros And Cons Of The Psa Test

Pros:

  • it may reassure you if the test result is normal
  • it can find early signs of cancer, meaning you can get treated early
  • PSA testing may reduce your risk of dying if you do have cancer

Cons:

  • it can miss cancer and provide false reassurance
  • it may lead to unnecessary worry and medical tests when there’s no cancer
  • it cannot tell the difference between slow-growing and fast-growing cancers
  • it may make you worry by finding a slow-growing cancer that may never cause any problems

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What Happens If You Have A Likert Score Of 3 Or More

This result on its own doesnt mean that you definitely have prostate cancer. But its more likely that you do. Your doctor is likely to recommend for you to have a biopsy.

The MRI scan also helps doctors know where to take the biopsy from. You usually have tissue samples taken from the suspected area of cancer and also from the rest of the prostate. Doctors call these targeted biopsies and systematic biopsies. This is because not all cancers can be seen on an MRI scan.

How Are Researchers Trying To Improve The Psa Test

Blood test could predict aggressiveness of prostate cancer

Scientists are investigating ways to improve the PSA test to give doctors the ability to better distinguish cancerous from benign conditions and slow-growing cancers from fast-growing, potentially lethal cancers. And other potential biomarkers of prostate cancer are being investigated. None of these tests has been proven to decrease the risk of death from prostate cancer. Some of the methods being studied include

Selected References
  • Thompson IM, Pauler DK, Goodman PJ, et al. Prevalence of prostate cancer among men with a prostate-specific antigen level < or =4.0 ng per milliliter. New England Journal of Medicine 2004 350:22392246.

  • Read Also: Early Warnings Of Prostate Cancer

    What Are Clinical Trials And Are They Right For You

    Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. Researchers also use clinical trials to look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. Find out if clinical trials are right for you.

    No Two Men Are The Same

    Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in men today. It mainly affects men over age 50. As men reach their 50th birthday, many become concerned about how to protect themselves against prostate cancer.

    You may be wondering if you should be tested to identify whether you have prostate cancer, even if you show no symptoms. You may have heard about the PSA test for prostate cancer and wonder whether you should have it. Perhaps family members, friends, or co-workers are urging you to be tested.

    The information below will help you to better understand prostate cancer and the PSA test.

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    Screening For Prostate Cancer

    Prostate cancer is typically treatable if caught early. More than 90 percent of prostate cancers are found when the disease is in the beginning stages, confined to the prostate and nearby organs.

    Unlike screenings for breast cancer and colon cancer, there are no universal screening guidelines for prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men age 55 to 69 weigh the benefits and risks before deciding whether they should undergo screening, which is typically performed with a blood test that measures levels of a protein called prostate-specific antigen .

    However, men in high-risk groupssuch as those who are of African-American descent and/or have a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65should consider speaking with their doctor about starting screenings at an earlier age.

    Men older than 70 shouldnt be routinely screened for prostate cancer, according to the USPSTF.

    Regardless of age or risk factors, men should get checked if they suddenly experience issues with urination, erectile dysfunction or unexplained pain.

    The USPSTF suggests that, before deciding on a screening, men should seek expert advice about the benefits and harms of screening. Risks may include:

    • False positives
    • Complications and side effects from biopsies to confirm a diagnosis
    • The possibility that a prostate cancer diagnosis wont extend lifespan or improve quality of life
    Age
    Consider a biopsy or additional testing

    How Soon Will Prostate Test Results Be Available

    Avoid prostate biopsies with new cancer screening

    Results for simple medical tests such as some urodynamic tests, cystoscopy, and abdominal ultrasound are often available soon after the test. The results of other medical tests such as PSA blood test and prostate tissue biopsy may take several days to come back. A health care provider will talk with the patient about the results and possible treatments for the problem.

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    Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer

    Check out this factsheet for a summary of the video.

    Diagnosis is the process of finding out the cause of a health problem. Diagnosing prostate cancer usually begins with a visit to your family doctor. Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you have and do a physical exam. Based on this information, your doctor may refer you to a specialist called a urologist or order tests to check for prostate cancer or other health problems. A urologist is a doctor who specializes in treating conditions of the genital and urinary tracts, including the prostate.

    The process of diagnosis may seem long and frustrating. It’s normal to worry, but try to remember that other health conditions can cause similar symptoms as prostate cancer. It’s important for the healthcare team to rule out other reasons for a health problem before making a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

    The following tests are usually used to rule out or diagnose prostate cancer. Many of the same tests used to diagnose cancer are used to find out the stage . Your doctor may also order other tests to check your general health and to help plan your treatment.

    When Should I Have My Psa Levels Tested

    The first thing to do is talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening before you decide whether to be tested. Donât get tested until you have that talk. Opinions differ about when you should do that.

    The American Cancer Society says to get tested at age:

    • 40 or 45 if youâre at high risk
    • 50 if youâre at average risk

    The American Urological Association suggests:

    • Under 40: No screening
    • 40 to 54: No screening if youâre at average risk. If youâre at a high risk, you and your doctor can decide.
    • 55 to 69: Screening if your doctor suggests
    • Over 70 or less than a 10-15 year life expectancy: No screening

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says:

    If your doctor thinks you might have prostate cancer based on either a PSA level or a rectal exam, a biopsy is the next step. This is a test where the doctor takes a small amount of tissue from your prostate and sends it to a lab for tests. Itâs the only way to be sure you have cancer.

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    Transrectal Ultrasound With Prostate Biopsy

    Transrectal ultrasound is most often used to examine the prostate. In a transrectal ultrasound, the health care provider inserts a transducer slightly larger than a pen into the mans rectum next to the prostate. The ultrasound image shows the size of the prostate and any abnormal-looking areas, such as tumors. Transrectal ultrasound cannot definitively identify prostate cancer.

    To determine whether a tumor is cancerous, the health care provider uses the transducer and ultrasound images to guide a needle to the tumor. The needle is then used to remove a few pieces of prostate tissue for examination with a microscope. This process, called biopsy, can reveal whether prostate cancer is present. A transrectal ultrasound with prostate biopsy is usually performed by a doctor in a health care providers office, outpatient center, or hospital with light sedation and local anesthesia. The biopsied prostate tissue is examined in a laboratory by a pathologista doctor who specializes in diagnosing diseases.

    There Are Risks To Getting Prostate Cancer Tests And Treatments

    Prostate Cancer Test

    If your PSA is not normal, you will probably have a biopsy. The doctor puts a needle through the wall of the rectum and into the prostate to take a few samples. Biopsies can be painful and cause bleeding. Men can get serious infections from biopsies, and they may need hospital care.

    Surgery or radiation are the usual treatments for prostate cancer. They can do more harm than good. Treatment can cause serious complications, such as heart attacks, blood clots in the legs or lungs, or even death. In addition, 40 men out of 1,000 will become impotent or incontinent from treatment.

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    What Are The Prostate Cancer Symptoms I Need To Look Out For

    In its early stages, prostate cancer may not show any symptoms. Symptoms of early prostate cancer can include:

    • difficulty passing urine
    • a slow, interrupted flow of urine
    • frequent passing of urine, including at night

    Symptoms associated with advanced prostate cancer include:

    • pain during urination
    • lower back or pelvic pain.

    These symptoms are also found in men who may have benign prostatic hyperplasia , a common, non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.

    If you experience these symptoms, visit your doctor.

    What Is A Normal Psa Test Result

    There is no specific normal or abnormal level of PSA in the blood. In the past, PSA levels of 4.0 ng/mL and lower were considered normal. However, some individuals with PSA levels below 4.0 ng/mL have prostate cancer and many with higher PSA levels between 4 and 10 ng/mL do not have prostate cancer .

    In addition, various factors can cause someones PSA level to fluctuate. For example, the PSA level tends to increase with age, prostate gland size, and inflammation or infection. A recent prostate biopsy will also increase the PSA level, as can or vigorous exercise in the 2 days before testing. Conversely, some drugsincluding finasteride and dutasteride, which are used to treat BPHlower the PSA level.

    In general, however, the higher a mans PSA level, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer.

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