A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is the test used to screen for prostate cancer. PSA tests can be a useful tool for detecting prostate cancer early and to determine what treatment would be most effective. PSA tests and digital rectal exams from a men’s health clinic can also be reassuring if you are concerned about prostate cancer. However, getting screened for prostate cancer is not necessary or desirable for some men.

What is PSA?

Prostate-specific antigen is a protein that is produced by prostate tissue that helps liquefy semen. Cancer cells in the prostate usually produce more PSA than benign cells, so elevated levels in your bloodstream can indicate prostate cancer. However, it does not necessarily mean cancer; it can also indicate inflamed prostate glands. Your doctor will look at your PSA levels in the context of other factors, such as your age, your prostate gland’s size, and how quickly your PSA levels are changing.

What is the benefit of getting a PSA test?

For certain types of prostate cancer, detecting it early is crucial to prevent it from becoming life threatening. A PSA test may help your doctor detect a prostate cancer that is likely to spread to other parts of your body. Additionally, catching prostate cancer early may allow you to try less aggressive treatment methods so you can avoid the negative side effects of many cancer treatments.

What is the downside to getting a PSA test?

While it may seem like getting screened for cancer is a no-brainer, there are certain downsides. For example, elevated PSA levels do not necessarily indicate prostate cancer, so testing for PSA can cause unnecessary stress. Additionally, if your doctor finds that you have cancer that is slow-growing and does not yet require treatment, this can cause anxiety without the ability to do anything about it. Finally, follow up tests may be stressful, expensive, and time consuming.

Knowing your risk factors

When determining whether you should get a PSA, knowing your risk factors for prostate cancer can help inform your decision.

  • Age: Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age.
  • Race: African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer.
  • Family history: If you have a close family member with prostate cancer, you are more likely to develop it.
  • Diet: Men with diets high in fat are at greater risk of prostate cancer.

If you want a PSA test, Men’s Vitality Center in Glendale can help. Contact our men’s health clinic today to schedule an appointment.