Understanding PSA numbers For Your Diagnosis

If you’ve got an enlarged prostate and your doctor believes you’re suffering with BPH (benign swelling or prostate enlargement), then he/she may order a PSA prostate test to find out for sure. You may wonder what a PSA test is.

What Is A PSA Test: How Does Your Doctor Use It To Diagnosis Your Prostate Problems

So what is a PSA test? It’s actually called a prostate specific antigen; it’s a protein that is created primarily by cells in the prostate. Bear in mind that the prostate’s key role is to generate fluid that will make up some of the man’s semen; most PSA that’s been produced will find a way to the fluid. A minute amount of PSA will get into the blood and is found flowing freely (or free PSA) or is affixed to other proteins (complex PSA, cPSA).

Thus, the PSA test is used to find out what the PSA level is and measure the total PSA amount, complex PSA level amount and free PSA level amount. When your doctor orders a PSA test, they’ll first get a total PSA test. Your doctor, if he/she deems it necessary, they may order a cPSA or free PSa test. It should be noted that doctors are usually ordering both types of tests.

Now, a PSA test is just one of several steps doctors will do to make a prostate problem diagnosis. Keep in mind that it’s not the only thing doctors use to diagnose prostate cancer or BPH. The primary purpose is to find out whether prostate cancer or BPH is possible so additional tests can be done.

What Do The Levels Mean

Each person’s PSA levels will differ and it can rise and drop with the varying types of activity you do. It can also drop and rise with medication and specific types of infections. It’s very rare your doctor will use that test solely to determine the PSA levels. They’ll often order additional tests several weeks apart before they come up with an official conclusion.

PSA is typically in the blood with a concentration of four nanograms per milliliter. However, if the PSA levels are in the four to 10 nanograms per milliliter range, it could indicate that you have prostate cancer and BPH. If the levels are above 10 nanograms, your doctor is going to order additional tests to determine if you have prostate cancer.

The real problem though with the PSA test is when the results fall in that gray area of four to 10 nanograms. Generally, doctors will get another free PSA test. If you have a low PSA level, it could indicate that you have an increased risk for prostate cancer.  A high level of free PSA mean you have a low risk and that the rise in total PSA is the cause of prostate cancer.

Your doctor may order a cPSA test to give him/her additional information about the levels to determine if indeed prostate cancer is present.

PSA testing is mainly used to screen for prostate cancer. It is generally carried out for months or years and any changes in those levels are carefully watched. If there is a pattern of rising PSA numbers, it’s highly possible that you have prostate cancer and the rate in how it increased will also indicate how aggressive that cancer is.

PSA testing is also used to follow the treatments of prostate cancer to determine how effective it is.

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