Tags: Prostate Health | prostate-specific antigen | prostate cancer | test | reliable

Is Prostate-Specific Antigen Test a Reliable Indicator of Prostate Cancer?

By    |   Monday, 02 May 2016 06:48 PM

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a common indicator of prostate health, and it is often used to screen for prostate cancer before symptoms occur. A high PSA count can be cause for concern, but it doesn’t necessarily mean cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate-specific antigen is a protein produced by the prostate gland. The PSA test is performed to measure the amount of the protein in the blood. Results of the test are reported in nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood. Men with prostate cancer often have elevated levels of PSA in the blood.

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Small amounts of prostate-specific antigen can be found in the bloodstream of men who do not have prostate cancer, and there has not been agreement on what constitutes a “normal” amount of PSA, says the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation in Rotterdam. The risk of having prostate cancer increases with higher PSA counts.

WebMD says there are other factors that can lead to high PSA counts including benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) or inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis). Also, PSA counts tend to rise naturally as men age.

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There is controversy regarding the prostate-specific antigen test among healthcare professionals. The PSA test is very sensitive and often leads to overdiagnosis of prostate cancer and identification of cancer that is so small it would never become life-threatening, says Healthline.

Many physicians suspect the risk of overdiagnosis outweighs the potential benefits of early detection and treatment. They say some men have far greater side effects from the treatment of small tumors in their early stages than they would from their prostate cancer being undetected.

The PSA test can be part of a screening protocol that also includes a digital-rectal exam. Using a combination of tests may improve the reliability of the prostate-specific antigen test.

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The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a common indicator of prostate health, and it is often used to screen for prostate cancer before symptoms occur.
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2016-48-02
Monday, 02 May 2016 06:48 PM
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