General Health

Merits and Drawbacks of PSA Level Testing

Overview

PSA is a blood test that is primarily used to detect prostate cancer. The test determines how much prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is present in the sample. PSA is a protein produced by both malignant and benign (non-cancerous tissue in the prostate gland, which is located underneath the bladder in males.

PSA is found mostly in the ejaculate, which is also produced in the prostate. PSA is often found in low concentrations in the body.

PSA values above a certain threshold may indicate the existence of prostate cancer. PSA levels can be raised by various diseases, including an enlarged or inflammatory prostate. As a result, figuring out what a high PSA result signifies can be difficult.

PSA level test can be employed for the following

Prostate cancer is a common malignancy that takes the lives of people. Early detection could be a useful asset in getting the right care in a timely manner.

PSA levels can rise as a result of prostate cancer. Many noncancerous illnesses, on the other hand, can raise PSA levels. Although the PSA test can detect high levels of PSA in the blood, it cannot provide precise diagnostic information regarding the prostate’s status.

The PSA test is one of several methods for detecting early indications of prostate cancer. A digital rectal exam is another standard screening test usually done alongside a PSA test. (An examination in which a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities).

The PSA test and the digital rectal exam do not provide enough information for a specialist to diagnose prostate cancer. A prostate biopsy may be required if the results of these tests are abnormal.

Prostate tissue samples are collected for laboratory evaluation during a prostate biopsy. The biopsy results are used to make a cancer diagnosis.

Risk factors 

The main risk factors include:

Prostate cancer is more likely to develop as the individual becomes older. Prostate cancer is more likely to develop after the age of 50.

Race: For unknown reasons, black men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer and dying from it.

Mutations in inherited genes: BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer. Although these genes are most closely linked to breast cancer, they also enhance the risk of other cancers.

Merits of PSA level testing

Early detection of certain kinds of prostate cancer is significant. PSA levels that are elevated could indicate prostate cancer that is likely to spread to other regions of the body (metastasize), or cancer that is rapidly progressing and likely to cause significant issues.

Early recognition and diagnosis can assist in detecting cancer before it becomes life-threatening or causes significant symptoms. Early detection of cancer may lead to less aggressive treatment, reducing the chance of some side effects such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence.

Drawbacks of PSA level testing

  • PSA-raising factors are one of the limits of PSA testing. An enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) and an inflammatory or diseased prostate are two more disorders that can elevate PSA readings (prostatitis). PSA levels are also known to rise with ageing.
  • PSA-lowering substances benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and urinary problems are treated with particular pharmaceuticals, and high dosages of certain chemotherapeutic agents can suppress PSA levels. Obesity can also decrease PSA levels.
  • Misleading outcomes The test does not always yield a reliable result. A high PSA level does not always signify someone has cancer. It’s also possible to have both prostate cancer and a normal PSA level.
  • Overdiagnosis; PSA screenings can detect prostate tumours that will never cause symptoms or cause death. These malignancies with no symptoms are referred to as overdiagnosis, which are tumours that are unlikely to cause harm or death.

Reference ranges

  • If the PSA values are between 0 and 2.5 ng/mL, people are unlikely to develop prostate cancer and will not require additional testing.
  • A PSA level of 2.5 to 4.0 ng/mL is regarded to be normal. If the individual has no other risk factors, the PSA levels are stable, and the individual isn’t taking Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) medication, the specialist may determine that no further testing is necessary until the next physical assessment.
  • If the PSA levels are more than 4.0 ng/mL or are increasing, the doctor may suggest additional testing to rule out other conditions. A urine test, for example, could be used to check for a urinary tract infection. Although PSA values of 4.0 to 10.0 are deemed “suspicious,” the individual only has a 25% chance of developing prostate cancer.
  • PSA levels are considered “hazardous” if they are 10 ng/mL or above. This means the individual has a 50% probability of developing prostate cancer.

Author

 Yash Batra

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