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Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)

How To Prepare

Before you have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA), tell your doctor if you have had a:

  • Test to look at your bladder (cystoscopy) in the past several weeks.
  • Prostate needle biopsy or prostate surgery in the past several weeks.
  • Digital rectal exam in the past several weeks.
  • Prostate infection (prostatitis) or an urinary tract infection (UTI) that has not gone away.
  • Tube (catheter) inserted into your bladder recently to drain urine.

Do not ejaculate for 24 hours before your PSA blood test, either during sex or masturbation.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

The health professional taking a sample of your blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure on the site and then a bandage.

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

Screening tests aren't perfect. They may miss some cancers, show something that looks like a tumor when it's not one, or find cancers that will never cause a problem. Since there is no way to know which ones will cause harm, cancers are often treated. This may lead to unnecessary cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should have this screening test. It is important to know the risks of having this test and whether studies show that having the test will reduce your risk of dying from this kind of cancer.

There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 14, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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