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Men's Health

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Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

What To Think About

  • When combined with a digital rectal exam, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test may increase the chance of finding prostate cancer. To learn more, see the topic Digital Rectal Examination (DRE).
  • A PSA level within the normal ranges does not mean that prostate cancer is not present. Some men who have prostate cancer have normal PSA levels.
  • Experts disagree about the type of testing that is appropriate if the PSA level is high. The decision may depend on:
    • Results of your digital rectal exam.
    • Results of any PSA tests you have had in the past. If your PSA level gets higher in a short amount of time, follow-up testing may be recommended.
    • Your age and health.
    • The costs and risks of more tests and treatments.
  • Other prostate tests are being evaluated to determine how well they tell the difference between prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
    • The prostate-specific antigen density (PSAD) test compares the PSA value to the size of the prostate gland. The size of the prostate is measured using transrectal ultrasound (TRUS).
    • The PSA velocity test is a measure of how rapidly PSA levels increase over time. PSA levels increase more rapidly in men with prostate cancer and more slowly in men with prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia).
    • A complexed prostate-specific antigen (cPSA) test may help show if a prostate biopsy should be done. This test measures the amount of several forms of PSA that are attached to proteins found in the blood.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
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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