Increased screening for cancer — including prostate cancer — has led to early detection and more successful treatments. By testing levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood, your urologist gets an inside look at the health of your prostate.
A high PSA could indicate cancer. It could also be a sign of a benign condition, such as an enlarged prostate. Also, “high,” “low,” and “normal” PSA levels vary by age, and even by individual. In fact, your first PSA test may establish what’s normal for you.
Alex Lesani, MD, an expert urologist, urges all men to take prostate health seriously. That’s why he offers prostate cancer screening, including the PSA test, at his Las Vegas office.
What does a high PSA level mean for you? Let’s find out.
When you first get your results back, you may be shocked to find that your PSA went from 0.5 ng/mL to 1.0 ng/mL since your last test. However, anything below 4.0 ng/mL is usually considered normal. But if you’re 70 or older, even 6.5 ng/mL could be normal.
Dr. Lesani always discusses your results within the context of your individual demographics, including age. For instance, median PSA ranges from about 0.4 to 0.7 ng/mL in men still in their 40s. Once you reach your 50s, though, the median range runs from 0.7 to 1.0 ng/mL.
This broad range that changes with age may be a good reason to start your PSA testing sooner than the American Cancer Society recommends, which is age 50 for men at average risk. By establishing a baseline for you at a younger age, such as 40 or 45, your urologist can track elevations and fluctuations more precisely and individually.
You’re at risk for prostate problems
Another reason to start PSA testing at age 40 is if you do have a PSA that’s on the high side of the normal range, Dr. Lesani recommends more frequent testing. Higher baseline PSA levels are associated with a greater risk for prostate cancer in the next 20-25 years, and for more aggressive disease.
Knowing your risk gives you control over your health. You can make lifestyle modifications that lower your risk for cancer and other prostate diseases.
You recently had a medical procedure
Sometimes medical procedures — including taking a biopsy for prostate cancer — can raise your PSA. Let Dr. Lesani know if you’ve recently had any procedures that could affect your prostate, including bladder exams or catheter placement.
To get a more accurate reading of your PSA levels, he reschedules your test until 2-3 weeks after that procedure. He also waits to perform a digital rectal exam (DRE) to evaluate the size of your prostate until after he draws blood for PSA.
You have BPH
If you’re over age 50, elevated PSA levels could indicate you have a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Your prostate continues to grow as you age, and most men develop BPH as they get older.
Even if your prostate is enlarged, you don’t necessarily need treatment. However, if your BPH leads to pain or incontinence, Dr. Lesani may recommend treatment to reduce its size.
You have an infection
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause elevated PSA levels. If you know you have a UTI, wait until it’s cleared before coming in for your PSA test. Most infections are easily cured with a course of antibiotics.
If — after considering all the factors that could influence your test — Dr. Lesani determines that you have high PSA levels, he first recommends re-testing. If your second test also reads high, he may perform a biopsy to test for prostate cancer.
A PSA test helps you take control of your health and your future. Whether you’re ready for a baseline PSA test or a follow-up, phone or friendly office staff at 702-470-2579, or book online.