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Prostate Specific Antigen

PSA test to check for cancer risk

Levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) are elevated in men with prostate cancer. This test can monitor the progression of an existing diagnosis, or test for cancer in men with no symptoms.

The Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test is a blood test. The sample is checked for the level of PSA being produced by the prostate. This is not a direct marker of cancer, but when the levels raise consistently or spike, it can be an indicator of cancer.

The doctor may recommend getting a PSA test depending on your age, symptoms, and the results of your DRE (digital rectal exam). Symptoms to be aware of include more frequent or urgent urination, a feeling of being unable to empty the bladder, blood in the urine, erectile dysfunction, and painful or burning urination or ejaculation.

If you notice anything unusual, speak to one of our doctors, who can advise you on any diagnostic methods that are appropriate.

Procedure

Preparing for test

Please arrive for this test well-hydrated, to make the procedure easier. You should also make sure you don't have:
o an active urinary infection (PSA may be raised for many months)
o ejaculated in the previous 48 hours
o exercised vigorously in the previous 48 hours
o or had a prostate biopsy in the previous 6 weeks
o had a digital rectal examination within the previous week
as these can influence your results.

During the test

This test is a simple blood test. A needle is inserted into a vein, usually on the inner arm near the elbow, and a small amount of blood is drawn. You may feel a pricking or scratching sensation.

Results

If the test was suggested to you by one of our doctors during a consultation they will give you a call to discuss the results with you and suggest the further management if necessary. Otherwise we will email you the results and you can either take them to your own doctor for interpretation or you can book a consultation with us.

FAQ

When should I start getting PSA tests?

There is no definitive rule for starting testing. Men who are in higher risk groups (those with family history of prostate cancer, who are of African or Caribbean descent, or who are showing symptoms) are advised to get a baseline test around age 40.

For men of average risk, it is recommended to begin testing around age 50. The doctor can discuss with you if you are thinking about starting testing. Once you begin testing, it is recommended that you have a test at least once every two years.

What happens if my PSA test shows elevated levels?

If your results indicate abnormally high levels of PSA, it is likely that a prostate biopsy will be recommended. At very least, you will be advised to come in for a second test to check how quickly your levels are changing.

What is a digital rectal exam (DRE)?

In a DRE, the doctor examines the prostate, a walnut-shaped gland which surrounds the neck of the bladder. During the exam, the doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum, which allows them to check the gland for any hard areas or bumps.

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Prostate Specific Antigen

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Please note that Walk In Clinic is a private medical centre and not an NHS service.