What to do before your first PSA test
A normal PSA level will be slightly different for every man. We’ll explain why.
A PSA test measures the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. It can help to diagnose any changes or diseases of the prostate.
PSA levels in men change as you age – so everyone’s results will be slightly different, influenced by your age, health, family history, and even recent exercise or sexual activity.
This article explains what PSA is, how it’s measured, what’s considered to be a healthy level, and what to do if yours is elevated.
If you’re considering taking a PSA test for the first time, we recommend talking to your GP.
If your PSA level is elevated, it’s good to be aware in advance of the options available to manage your prostate health. This information will help you make the decision about whether to go ahead with your first PSA test.Checking your #PSAlevel for the first time? Always talk to your GP first. #PSAtest #prostatehealth #prostate #menshealth #health Click To Tweet
What is a PSA level?
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a protein made in the prostate gland.
The prostate gland is located underneath a man’s bladder and surrounds the top part of the urethra. In young men, the gland is about the size of a walnut. As men age, the prostate often gets larger and the level of PSA in the blood gets higher.
If you (or a man in your life) start to experience problems related to your prostate – such as difficulty passing urine or passing urine more often than usual – your doctor may recommend a PSA test.
This is a simple blood test that indicates if there is something going on in your prostate.
A PSA test can be performed by having blood taken from your vein at a local pathology centre or by a simple fingerprick blood test that you can do from home.#PSAlevels can now be checked by a simple fingerprick blood test you can do from home #PSAtest #prostatehealth #prostate #menshealth #health Click To Tweet
What is a high PSA level?
Because PSA levels change as you get older, you will be told whether your PSA test result is within the expected range for your age.
If your result is high for your age, your doctor will talk to you about possible options to investigate further.
What does a high PSA level mean?
A high PSA level does not necessarily indicate prostate cancer.
It can be caused by a non-cancerous growth of the prostate, which is more common in older men, inflammation or infection of the prostate (known as prostatitis) or, least commonly, prostate cancer.
According to Andrology Australia, about one in three men with a raised PSA level will have prostate cancer. And, occasionally prostate cancer will be present without a raised PSA level. However, the PSA test is still the standard first-line test to screen for prostate cancer in Australia.
If your PSA test results show you might be at risk of prostate cancer, your doctor will do further tests. This may include a digital rectal examination and potentially a biopsy.About one in three men with a raised #PSAlevel will have prostate cancer. Check your #prostatehealth with your GP. #menshealth Click To Tweet
Should I get a PSA test?
It’s important to make your own decision about whether to have a PSA test after a discussion with your doctor.
If you’re ready to take the test, you can ask your GP to order one for you, or you can order a fingerprick PSA blood test online.
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia:
Men over 50 should discuss #PSAtesting with their GP at their annual #health check-up. #PSAtest #prostatehealth #prostate #menshealth Click To Tweet
Men over age 50, or 40 with a family history of prostate cancer, should talk to their doctor about testing for prostate cancer using the PSA test and digital rectal exam as part of their annual health check-up.
Men should make an individual informed decision about testing based on the latest available evidence on the benefits and potential harms of testing and subsequent treatment for prostate cancer.
PSA testing to monitor low-risk prostate cancer
Some men who are diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer are recommended to go onto a program of active surveillance – where they monitor their PSA levels over time – rather than undergo cancer treatment straight away.
Regular PSA blood tests are used to monitor any cancer activity.
Some men prefer to go onto active surveillance when the (adverse) side effects of treatment may have greater impact on their quality of life than the cancer itself.
Speak to your doctor
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australian men. It’s also a cancer that can have no symptoms until it’s well progressed.#ProstateCancer is one of the most common cancers in Australian men. Men over 50 are advised to check their #prostatehealth annually. Click To Tweet
If you’re a man over 50 (or over 40 with a family history of prostate cancer) it’s important to monitor your prostate health and have regular checks with your GP or urologist.
If you do decide to have a PSA test, a fingerprick blood test service available through MyHealthTest is an easy and convenient at-home testing option.
This allows you to do a simple fingerprick blood test in the convenience of your home, view your results securely online with the option to share them with your doctor, and importantly, track your levels over time.
If you live in a rural or remote area, the fingerprick blood test service – which is mailed directly to you – is an especially convenient and time-saving option. You won’t need to make appointments, travel or take time away from work.For more information about PSA testing or prostate cancer, please talk to your doctor. Additional information is also available from Cancer Council Australia, Andrology Australia and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.