A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is designed to measure how much prostate-specific antigen is a person’s blood system. The PSA releases itself into the blood through the prostate gland. When a man is healthy, he should have low amounts of PSA in his blood. As a man ages and the prostate enlarges, the amount of PSA also increases. PSA may also increase due to prostate cancer or inflammation of the prostate gland. Sexual activity, a digital rectal exam or an injury can also raise PSA levels briefly.
Before the PSA blood test, the only way of diagnosing prostate cancer was through rectal exams; however, it could not detect prostate cancer in the early stages which was a big problem. The prostate cancer would have to be large enough so that it produced a lump that the doctor could feel with his or her finger. Once the PSA blood test was approved by the FDA, the majority of all prostate cancers detected with a PSA test are in the early stages which increase the chances of full recovery. Below are five things all men should know about PSA tests.
1. To Test or Not to Test
Prostate cancer usually grows quite slow and doesn’t cause any major problems. Discovering prostate cancer and treating it early on might prevent some health problems and lower the risk of dying due to the cancer. Some prostate cancer treatments can cause additional problems such as incontinence or erectile dysfunction. Many men choose not to have the PSA test and won’t treat the cancer if it is found. For example, a man over the age of 75 who has no troubling symptoms of the cancer might choose to not treat it. Therefore, no PSA test is necessary.
2. Signs of Cancer
If your doctor suspects that you have the signs of prostate cancer, he or she will probably order a PSA test to properly diagnose you.
3. Abnormal Test
If the PSA test shows an elevated or abnormal level of PSA in the blood, it could mean you have prostate cancer.
4. Elevated PSA
Just because the amount of PSA is elevated in the blood, it does not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. This is also a sign of having an enlarged prostate gland, or sometimes called a benign prostatic hyperplasia.
5. When To Test
The American Cancer Society recommends that men over the age of 50 should have a PSA test annually. Men who have a family history of prostate cancer should begin testing before the age of 45.
More importantly, you should always discuss having a PSA test with your doctor if you are concerned about prostate cancer. Regardless of what you read, the most important decision a man can make is speaking to his doctor. He or she would know a lot more about prostate cancer and will be open with you regarding these issues.
If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer or are concerned about the risk of prostate cancer, it is important to consult with your physician as soon as possible.
Eduardo Dieguez is a content writer and blogger at Rejuve Health Clinics in Orlando, Florida. Eduardo is a 1st generation American born Cuban that is currently in pursuit of his AA Degree at Valencia.
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