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What Is Prostate Blood Test

What Is It Used For

What does my PSA test score mean?

A PSA test is used to screen for prostate cancer. Cancer screening means looking for signs of cancer before it causes symptoms. But screening tests can’t diagnose cancer. If a screening test finds signs of cancer, you’ll need other tests to find out if you have cancer and how serious it may be.

Most types of prostate cancer grow very slowly. They don’t spread beyond the prostate and may never cause health problems. In fact, you can live a long life with prostate cancer and never know you have it. The goal of prostate cancer screening is to help find cancers that may be more likely to spread so they can be treated early. But there are challenges and possible harms from using a PSA test to screen for prostate cancer:

  • A PSA test can’t tell the different between abnormal PSA levels from prostate cancer and noncancerous conditions. If your PSA level is high, a prostate biopsy is the only way to find out if the cause is cancer. And prostate biopsies have possible harms.
  • A PSA test may lead to finding and treating prostate cancer that would never have affected your health. If prostate cancer is found:
  • It can be difficult to tell the difference between slow-growing cancers and those that are likely to grow faster and spread in your body.
  • You could have prostate cancer treatment that you never really needed. And cancer treatment may cause serious harms, such as:
  • Problems controlling your bowels

PSA testing may also be used to:

Men At Higher Risk Of Prostate Cancer

Some men are at higher risk of prostate cancer than others. These are:

  • men who have a family history of prostate cancer

The risk of prostate cancer also increases as men get older.

The evidence so far doesnt suggest that routinely screening these men would help prevent deaths from prostate cancer. In fact, it might lead to men having treatment for prostate cancer even though that cancer wouldnt have caused any problems or symptoms.

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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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Kscore Test Benefits A Simple Blood Test Providing Clinically Meaningful Information

The 4Kscore® test offers you and your patient important benefits in determining the best course of treatment to manage prostate cancer risk. The 4Kscore® test can:

  • Distinguish men with a low risk of having aggressive prostate cancer on biopsy from those with an elevated risk
  • Reduce avoidable biopsies and overtreatment of indolent prostate cancer, producing savings for the healthcare system and minimizing risk to patients
  • Prompt early intervention in patients that would most benefit from timely diagnosis and treatment
  • Allow for improved decision making between the healthcare provider and patient to develop personalized treatment plan

Understanding Your Psa Test Results

PSA Prostate testing image

PSA is usually measured in nanograms per millilitre of blood . There is no one PSA reading that is considered normal. The reading varies from man to man and the level increases as you get older. Typically, most men have a PSA level of less than 3ng/ml.

Your doctor may refer you to a specialist if your PSA level is over what is consider normal for your age. Its important to remember that a PSA level higher than 3ng/ml may be normal in older men. Talk to your doctor about your PSA level and what this means for you.

Doctors usually follow guidelines that advise when to refer someone to a specialist. These guidelines vary slightly between the different UK nations. It’s important to know that your doctor also uses their own experience and judgment when deciding who needs to see a specialist.

Your doctor may refer you to a specialist if your PSA level is:


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Why Do I Need A Psa Test

It’s your choice whether to have a PSA test to screen for cancer. You and your prover may consider your risk for developing a serious cancer that could spread if you don’t catch it early. Your risk for serious prostate cancer may be higher depending on your:

  • Age. The risk of prostate cancer increases after age 50.
  • Your family health history. If members of your family have had prostate cancer, your risk may be higher.
  • Your race. Prostate cancer is more common in African Americans. They also have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer at a younger age and having more serious disease.

You may also have a PSA test if:

  • You have symptoms of a prostate condition, such as:
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Pelvic and/or back pain
  • You have prostate cancer. Your provider may use PSA testing to monitor your condition or to see how well treatment is working.
  • Understanding Psa Levels & The Psa Test

    The prostate is a walnut-sized gland found between the bladder and the rectum in males. Its primary job is to produce seminal fluid. The prostate creates a protein, the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA. A PSA screening test is a blood test approved by the FDA in 1994 to measure the levels of PSA in a mans blood.

    Small amounts of PSA ordinarily circulate in the bloodstream and can be measured by a PSA test to monitor the health of the prostate. This test is intended to screen for prostate cancer, find other prostate-related conditions, or monitor PSA levels in those in treatment for prostate cancer. This is a simple blood test which reports PSA levels as nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood.

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    Getting A Prostate Biopsy

    For some men, getting a prostate biopsy might be the best option, especially if the initial PSA level is high. A biopsy is a procedure in which small samples of the prostate are removed and then looked at under a microscope. This test is the only way to know for sure if a man has prostate cancer. If prostate cancer is found on a biopsy, this test can also help tell how likely it is that the cancer will grow and spread quickly.

    For more details on the prostate biopsy and how it is done, see Tests to Diagnose and Stage Prostate Cancer.

    For more information about the possible results of a prostate biopsy, see the Prostate Pathology section of our website.

    Living With Prostate Cancer

    Prostate Cancer Symptoms And The PSA Blood Test – Macmillan Cancer Support

    As prostate cancer usually progresses very slowly, you can live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment.

    Nevertheless, it can affect your life. As well as the possible side effects of treatment, a diagnosis of prostate cancer can understandably make you feel anxious or depressed.

    You may find it beneficial to talk about the condition with your family, friends, a GP and other people with prostate cancer.

    Financial support is also available if prostate cancer reduces your ability to work.

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    Does My Psa Level Determine Whether I Have Prostate Cancer

    Your provider looks at two factors related to your PSA:

    • Your PSA level: A higher level means a higher risk of prostate cancer.
    • A continuous rise: PSA levels that continue to rise after two or more tests may mean you have cancer.

    But the PSA level alone doesnt determine if you have cancer or not. Two men can even have the same PSA levels but different risks of prostate cancer. And a high PSA level may reflect prostate problems that arent cancer.

    Results Of A Psa Blood Test

    With imawareâ¢, youâll receive your results within 7 days of shipping the sample off to our labs. Youâll receive an email prompting you to log into your secure patient portal to view your results. Your results will give you a detailed look at your total PSA biomarker. Not only will the results give you a numerical value, but also a qualitative look into your data, taking into account any provided risk factors.

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    What Causes An Elevated Psa Level

    Prostate cancer is the main cause of an elevated PSA level. But PSA levels increase with age and can reflect different prostate conditions. Other factors that may raise a persons PSA level include:

    Your healthcare provider will also consider whether your medications affect PSA levels. For example, 5-alpha reductase blockers treat enlarged prostates and will lower PSA levels.

    Why The Test Is Performed

    The Problem with PSA Screenings, Prostate Cancer and Risk

    Reasons for a PSA test:

    • This test may be done to screen for prostate cancer.
    • It is also used to follow people after prostate cancer treatment to see if the cancer has come back.
    • If a provider feels the prostate gland is not normal during physical exam.


    Measuring the PSA level can increase the chance of finding prostate cancer when it is very early. But there is debate over the value of the PSA test for detecting prostate cancer. No single answer fits all men.

    For some men 55 through 69 years old, screening may help reduce the chance of death from prostate cancer. However, for many men, screening and treatment could potentially be harmful instead of beneficial.

    Before having the test, talk to your provider about the pros and cons of having a PSA test. Ask about:

    • Whether screening decreases your chance of dying from prostate cancer
    • Whether there is any harm from prostate cancer screening, such as side-effects from testing or overtreatment of cancer when discovered

    Men younger than age 55 have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer and should talk with their provider about PSA screening if they:

    • Have a family history of prostate cancer
    • Are African American

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    What Do My Psa Test Results Mean

    Once your test results are back, your healthcare provider will let you know if any additional testing is recommended. PSA levels can vary over time for several reasons unrelated to prostate cancer . So, if you have a borderline PSA, your provider may simply recommend another PSA test in six months or so.

    Psa Test: The Current Prostate Screening Standard

    Before recommending when you should be screened for prostate cancer, yourdoctor will consider many factors, such as:

    • Family history, particularly whether any of your family members have had prostate cancer
    • Race, as African-American men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer

    If your doctor determines you should undergo screening, he or she will mostlikely recommend the PSA test. For more than 30 years, the PSA test hasbeen the gold standard in prostate cancer screening. This simple blood testmeasures how much prostate-specific antigen is in your blood.

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    Advising Men Without Symptoms Of Prostate Disease Who Ask About The Psa Test

    This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: .

    Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.

    This publication is available at

    This prostate cancer risk management programme information helps GPs give clear and balanced information to asymptomatic men who ask about prostate specific antigen testing. The PSA test is available free to any man aged 50 and over who requests it.

    GPs should use their clinical judgement to manage asymptomatic men and those aged under 50 who they consider to be at increased risk of prostate cancer.

    GPs should follow National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline NG12 for the management of men who have symptoms of prostate disease.

    How To Get A Psa Test

    HealthWatch: New Blood Test Can Improve Screenings For Prostate Cancer

    Consult with your general practitioner or urologist about receiving a PSA test in their offices. PSA tests are typically covered without co-pay or deductible by Medicare once a year for men 50 years and older. Many states now have laws which require private health insurers to cover the costs for PSA testing. However, additional PSA test costs may need to be covered by the patient.

    For those without insurance, or for those with insurance that does not cover PSA testing, free tools are available through advocacy groups, such as ZERO.

    Companies such as imawaretm also offer in-home PSA testing kits and telemedicine appointments to discuss your PSA test results with a licensed physician. All imaware test kits are easy to use. After registering the test kit online, results will populate in the secure patient portal within 5-7 business days. You can submit your receipt of this test to insurance for potential reimbursement.

    At-Home testing is now at a point where results can be provided accurately and quickly within 5 business days, with real physicians providing telemedicine support through the entire testing process

    Dr. Diamandis Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System

    Article Contents

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    Kscore: A Better Mousetrap

    4KScore provides the key to what was missing with the PSA test alone. It allows us to separate men who are at high risk for high-risk, aggressive prostate cancer from those who may never experience symptoms of prostate cancer.

    #4KScore is a simple blood test. 4KScore is actually a combination of PSA test with a hK2 and a few other related tests .

    4KScore can be used in combination with PHI to gain a better understanding of the risks associated with prostate cancer.

    In our practice, we recommend the 4KScore test to all our patients who are at risk for prostate cancer. New York Urology Specialists is the first practice in the New York Metro area to offer 4KScore tests to our patients.

    If you have any questions, to schedule a consultation or if you need a second opinion, pleasecontact us or call:

    We see patients from all parts of New York City , Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey as well as other parts of the USA. We also see from Canada, Japan, South America, Russia, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and other parts of the world.

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    Information For Well Men Aged 50 And Over

    You can refer to the infographic above and direct patients to the information sheet for well men aged 50 and over for a summary of the potential benefits and risks of PSA testing.

    The information sheet for well men includes the above infographic, which explains the PSA test. It also includes a list of the potential advantages and disadvantages of the PSA test for men to consider when making a decision.

    The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities created this information on behalf of the NHS.

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    What Abnormal Results Mean

    A high PSA level has been linked to an increased chance of having prostate cancer.

    PSA testing is an important tool for detecting prostate cancer, but it is not foolproof. Other conditions can cause a rise in PSA, including:

    • A larger prostate
    • Recent tests on your bladder or prostate
    • Catheter tube recently placed into your bladder to drain urine

    Your provider will consider the following things when deciding on the next step:

    • If you had a PSA test in the past and how much and how fast your PSA level has changed
    • If a prostate lump was found during your exam
    • Other symptoms you may have
    • Other risk factors for prostate cancer, such as ethnicity and family history

    Men at high risk may need to have more tests. These may include:

    • Repeating your PSA test, most often sometime within 3 months. You may receive treatment for a prostate infection first.
    • A prostate biopsy will be done if the first PSA level is high, or if the level keeps rising when the PSA is measured again.
    • A follow-up test called a free PSA . This measures the percentage of PSA in your blood that is not bound to other proteins. The lower the level of this test, the more likely it is that prostate cancer is present.

    Other tests may also be done. The exact role of these tests in deciding on treatment is unclear.

    • A urine test called PCA-3.
    • An MRI of the prostate may help identify cancer in an area of the prostate that is hard to reach during a biopsy.

    Who Should Get A Psa Test

    When is PSA test done &  Screening for Prostate Cancer

    Not everyone should get a PSA test. Why? Because many in this country are treated for low-risk prostate cancer that is discovered through the PSA test, even when it is unlikely that the disease will ever cause symptoms or lead to death. And treatment is associated with significant side effects, including impotence and incontinence . You should discuss whether prostate cancer early detection is right for you with your personal primary care physician.

    To avoid the risks of over-treatment, Roswell Park follows the guidelines established by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network . The NCCN brings together world-renowned experts from 30 of the nations top cancer centers to write guidelines that specify the best ways of preventing, detecting and treating cancer. The guidelines are updated at least every year, on the basis of the latest research.

    Michael Kuettel, MD, PhD, MBA, Chair of Roswell Parkâs Department of Radiation Medicine, serves on the NCCN Prostate Cancer Panel.

    If you decide that Prostate Cancer Early Detection is right for you, the NCCN recommends PSA testing as follows:

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