According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer that affects men in the United States, and the second-leading cause of cancer death in that group.
Researchers developed the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to help doctors detect prostate cancer as early as possible. Early detection allows doctors to either treat the disease before it spreads to other organs or to monitor the progress of slow-growing tumors for changes.
The American Urological Society recommends regular PSA screenings if you’re at high risk for prostate cancer or if you have troubling prostate symptoms. They advise you to make shared decisions about PSA testing with your doctor when you’re at low-to-moderate risk and are between the ages of 55 to 69. However, a PSA test starting at age 40 can help you and your doctor establish what your baseline results are, so you can detect any changes afterward that might call for further testing.
Alex Lesani, MD, an innovative and expert urologist, administers PSA tests in the comfort of his Las Vegas, Nevada office. He also helps you understand the results, and makes recommendations for follow-up or treatment if you have high PSA levels.
What the PSA test measures
Your prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland that lies between your bladder and your penis. Its job is to produce and secrete the semen that nourishes your sperm and conveys it outside your body when you ejaculate.
Both normal and cancerous cells in your prostate gland produce the PSA protein. The PSA test measures the levels of PSA in your blood.
Originally, doctors considered PSA levels of 4.0 ng/mL and lower as being normal and healthy. However, further research showed that men with “healthy” levels could still have cancer, and men with higher levels could be cancer-free. Each man has a different “normal,” and that can fluctuate over time, too.
Why your PSA is high
Elevated PSA levels don’t necessarily mean that you have cancer. The PSA test is only one screening test that helps your doctor determine your prostate health. You might have high PSA levels due to a number of other conditions, including:
- Your age (levels naturally rise as you get older)
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate)
- Prostatitis (inflamed prostate)
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Recent urogenital medical procedure
If your PSA is already borderline high, even having a rectal exam or ejaculating could cause your levels to rise. Also, you could have a benign condition and prostate cancer at the same time.
What to do when your PSA is high
Based on your individual test results, general health, and risk factors, Dr. Lesani may make a number of recommendations when your PSA is elevated. In many cases, he may simply advise a follow-up test to see if the numbers continue to rise. He may also recommend a digital rectal exam (DRE) to detect the presence of a suspicious lump.
If your levels continue to rise, he may recommend a urine test to establish if you have a UTI. If he detects a lump, he orders imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, to further evaluate your prostate. If he suspects you have prostate cancer, he biopsies any suspicious growths.
Even if Dr. Lesani determines that you do have prostate cancer, it’s a slow-growing, treatable cancer with a 90% 5-year survival rate. Currently, more than 3.1 million men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S. are still thriving and living full lives. Depending on your case, he may recommend a watch-and-wait approach with regular PSA tests or immediate surgery.
Dr. Lesani is an expert in a minimally invasive type of robotic surgery called the daVinci® surgical system. If you have fast-growing or late-stage prostate cancer, he removes your prostate and may then refer you to an oncologist for further treatment, or he may recommend hormone therapy.
To establish your PSA levels and take care of your prostate health, contact Dr. Lesani today. You can phone our friendly office staff at 702-470-2579, or use the online booking form.