PSA tests are used to screen for prostate cancer by measuring the amount of PSA in your blood. What do the results of your PSA test mean?
What is PSA?
PSA or prostate-specific antigen is a protein that is made by the prostate gland. Some of the PSA makes its way into your bloodstream. For a PSA test, we will take a small sample of blood and measure the amount of PSA in it. Your PSA levels can depend on many factors, including your age and the size of your prostate. If your prostate is releasing a lot of PSA, it could be a sign of prostate cancer. However, it could also be due to benign prostate enlargement, a urinary tract infection (UTI) or even if you have had sex or been exercising vigorously in the two days before the PSA test.
What Do PSA Test Results Mean?
A PSA test can’t tell you whether you definitely have prostate cancer, but it can reveal whether you are at higher or lower risk. We will compare your PSA levels to the normal range for a man of your age to assess the chances that you have prostate cancer. As well as considering your age, we’ll also take into account other risk factors such as your ethnic background and family medical history.
You will get more personalised advice on PSA test results from your doctor, but as a general guide the normal PSA level (in nanograms per millilitre) are:
- 0-2.5ng/m/ for men aged 40 to 49 (average is 0.7ng/ml)
- 0-3ng/ml for men aged 50-59 (average is 0.9ng/ml)
- 0-4ng/ml for men aged 60-69
- Men aged over 70 with a PSA level greater than 4ng/ml usually require advice on an individual basis guided by the level
In some cases, your doctor might recommend having repeated PSA tests to monitor any changes in your PSA levels over time. If the amount of PSA is increasing, this can be a sign of prostate cancer. If your PSA levels are above the normal range, then it could be due to prostate cancer. However, there are other possible explanations too, requiring other tests to rule them out. If the diagnosis of prostate cancer is confirmed, you will need to consider the various treatment options available to you.
What Happens Next?
The results of your PSA test can help us to decide what to do next. PSA tests can tell us if we need to run more tests to look for other causes of your symptoms or to confirm the diagnosis of prostate cancer.
If your PSA levels are within the normal range for a man of your age, then you are less likely to be affected by prostate cancer. However, PSA tests aren’t perfect. You could still have prostate cancer even if your PSA levels are normal, so you might need further tests if you’re having symptoms such as difficulty urinating.
If your PSA levels are above the normal range, then it could be due to prostate cancer. However, there are other possible explanations too, so you will need more tests to rule them out. If the diagnosis of prostate cancer is confirmed, then you may need treatment to shrink or remove the tumour.