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Prostate-Specific Antigen or PSA test is an initial blood test that can detect the signs of an enlarged prostate. It helps men to dictate the signs of prostate cancer. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. Some of it will leak into the blood, and the amount depends on your age and the health of your prostate.
The amount of PSA in the blood is measured in nanograms of PSA per millilitre of blood (ng/ml). PSA levels can range from 1ng/ml to hundreds of ng/ml. A raised PSA level in the blood may be a sign of prostate cancer. However, other conditions, such as an enlarged prostate, prostatitis or a urinary infection can also cause a raised PSA level.
A normal PSA level
If your PSA level is not raised, you are unlikely to have cancer. No immediate action is needed, although you may have further PSA tests in the future. However, the PSA test doesn’t always pick up prostate cancer.
A slightly raised PSA level
Two out of three men with a raised PSA level will not have prostate cancer. If your PSA level is slightly higher than normal, you probably don’t have cancer, but you might need more PSA tests.
A raised PSA level
One out of three men with a raised PSA level will have cancer. The higher the level of PSA, the more likely it is to be a sign of cancer. If your PSA level is definitely raised, your GP will arrange for you to see a specialist for further tests to find out if you have prostate cancer.
A PSA test alone cannot tell you whether you have prostate cancer. If the test shows that your PSA levels are raised, the doctor may perform a digital rectal (DRE) exam. This is an examination of the prostate gland, during which the doctor will insert a gloved finger into your rectum. The DRE checks for signs of prostate cancer, such as the prostate gland feeling hard.