Do I Need a PSA Test?
Everything you need to know about prostate cancer testing with LabFinder.
What is a PSA test, and who is it for?
A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test checks how much PSA is in a man’s blood. The prostate gland produces PSA, which is a protein. High amounts of PSA can be a sign of a number of diseases that affect the prostate. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Unfortunately, symptoms of prostate cancer often don’t show until it’s well advanced. Men between the ages of 55 and 69 who are thought to be at an average risk for developing prostate cancer are frequently good candidates for PSA testing.
Why might I need to take a PSA test?
- To screen for prostate cancer: One main reason people get the PSA test is to check for prostate cancer. PSA values that are too high may be a sign of prostate cancer, and finding it early can improve treatment outcomes. Regular PSA tests can help find prostate cancer early, when it may still be treatable.
- To monitor your prostate’s health: PSA tests can also be used to keep an eye on the prostate’s health over time. If you’ve had prostate problems in the past, like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or if you’ve been treated for prostate cancer, getting regular PSA tests can help you keep track of changes in PSA levels and see how well your treatments are working.
- To check your symptoms: If you’re having problems with your prostate, like having trouble peeing, having to go to the bathroom a lot, or finding blood in your urine, your doctor may use a PSA test to figure out what these problems are.
- To assess your risk: PSA tests can help you figure out how likely it is that you may get prostate cancer. Getting a PSA test depends on your age, your family background, and other risk factors. For example, if you have a history of prostate in your family or even a family history of breast cancer, you are at higher risk for prostate cancer.
What are the advantages of PSA testing?
PSA testing may help diagnose prostate cancer at an earlier, more curable stage, which may increase the likelihood of survival. PSA testing is beneficial for men who are already aware that they have prostate problems or who have been treated for prostate cancer. This enables these men to monitor the evolution of their disease as well as the success of their therapies. The results of a PSA test give information that may assist you and your healthcare practitioner in making educated choices about further diagnostic testing and the treatment options available to you.
Is there any controversy surrounding PSA testing?
One major worry is that PSA testing may result in the diagnosis of prostate cancers that are too small to immediately threaten a man’s health or life expectancy. Men can also get high PSA levels from conditions that are not cancer, like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), and urinary tract infections. Overdiagnosis occurs when men are diagnosed with prostate cancer while the disease has not yet shown any symptoms or caused any damage. Overdiagnosis may lead to overtreatment, including unneeded operations or radiation treatments, which can have adverse consequences.
How do I avoid overdiagnosis?
It’s important to go into PSA testing with a fair view of what it can’t do and what could go wrong. Talk to your doctor or nurse often so that you can make choices that are good for your health. LabFinder can look at your age, family history, and general health to see if they put you at a higher risk for prostate cancer. Your risk profile can help you figure out what the pros and cons of PSA testing might be for you. Men under 55 or over 70 without clear risk factors should not undergo routine PSA testing.
What is the process of getting a PSA test?
- Visit LabFinder and book an appointment for a PSA test.
- Once you arrive at the testing lab, you will have a blood sample drawn, usually from a vein in your arm.
- The sample of blood is taken and sent to a laboratory for examination, where the level of PSA is measured.
- Results will be presented as a PSA concentration in ng/mL. The findings will be explained to you and sent to your doctor.
PSA testing may not be appropriate for everyone, so it’s important to discuss the pros and cons of the procedure with your doctor. They will provide you with the information you need to decide whether and how often you need to have a PSA test.
Can I use telehealth to get a PSA test?
If you are looking to get a PSA test but don’t have a regular doctor, or you can’t get in to see your doctor, LabFinder can help. No need to schedule an in-person visit. Our telehealth service, MinuteMed, will connect you with a board-certified physician who can help determine if a PSA test is right for you, and provide a script for your test appointment—100% online.