The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test used to screen males for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death related to cancer among men in the United States. It is important that men approaching increasing age have their PSA levels checked. Obana and O’Lawrence (2015) stated that males over the age of 40 who have a family history of prostate cancer can benefit from electing to have their PSA levels checked. Those that do not have a family history of prostate cancer can also benefit from PSA testing, but it is not recommended as strictly until the population nears 50 years of age. The test is a simple blood test that involves a blood sample being drawn and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Once the results are determined, a healthcare provider can inform the patient of the results and discuss the indications. The test detects high levels of PSA in the blood, which should not be present in large amounts. High levels of PSA in the blood may indicate prostate cancer. Nordström, Adolfsson, Grönberg, and Eklund (2017) stated that PSA tests are an extremely useful first-line risk assessment for prostate cancer, but the test needs to be followed up with more conclusive testing for diagnosis if a man’s PSA levels are elevated. PSA testing is quick and inexpensive, making it an attractive option for initial prostate cancer screening. However, for diagnosis, more definitive diagnostic tests such as ultrasound, biopsy, or MRI fusion need to be performed (Nordström, Adolfsson, Grönberg, & Eklund, 2017).
Other conditions, such as enlarged or inflamed prostate, can also increase the PSA levels. For this reason, PSA tests are not completely full-proof in terms of diagnosing prostate cancer, but they do provide a very good indicator. PSA tests serve as a very valid and reliable detector of potential prostate cancer and provide men with data proving that they need to seek additional screening for potential prostate cancer. However, PSA testing is not a very reliable indicator of definitive prostate cancer. Lawrentschuk (2016) stated that roughly 75 percent of men with elevated PSA levels are proven to not have prostate cancer after tissue biopsy. This proves the lack of reliability in predicting prostate cancer. PSA tests should be used to promote awareness concerning a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. Upon increased serum PSA levels, it is recommended that men undergo more definitive screening for prostate cancer to determine diagnosis. Most often, the biggest indicator for whether or not prostate cancer is beatable is the time of the diagnosis. Prostate cancer that has progressed in stage is a lot more fatal than prostate cancers that are still in the initial stage. Obana and O’Lawrence (2015) noted that at times, men are not diagnosed with prostate cancer until the cancer has reached stage three or four and metastasized to other tissues and structures throughout the body. At this point, treatment becomes significantly more difficult. PSA tests provide men with an initial means of prostate cancer detection that can save their lives.
Lawrentschuk, N. (2016). PSA testing and early management of test-detected prostate cancer–consensus at last. BJU International, 117 Suppl 45-6. doi:10.1111/bju.13481
Nordström, T., Adolfsson, J., Grönberg, H., & Eklund, M. (2017). Effects of increasing the PSA cutoff to perform additional biomarker tests before prostate biopsy. BMC Urology, 17(1), 92. doi:10.1186/s12894-017-0281-8
Obana, M., & O’Lawrence, H. (2015). Prostate cancer screening: PSA test awareness among adult males. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, 38(1), 17-43. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.