PSA – Should You Be Screened?
There is no clear-cut answer but consider this: a routine blood test is simply that – routine. You visit a doctor or lab and have blood drawn. A few days later, your MD will discuss the results.
The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test simply looks at the level of protein in your blood that is being produced by your prostate. It is not a test for cancer. To test for cancer, you must have a biopsy, which is typically suggested only after a series of increasing PSA scores are noted over months or even years.
The PSA test is not 100% accurate and it is not easy to determine if a rising PSA is due to non-cancerous conditions which can include prostatitis, urinary tract infections or an enlarged prostate called BPH.
Generally speaking a PSA level between 4.1 and 10 suggests a 47% chance that you may have cancer. Your risk increases as your score continues to rise. That said, researchers have found dangerous cancers occurring at PSA levels below 4.
About one-fifth of men with prostate cancer do not have high enough PSA levels to cause any concern. I was one of those men. What I did not know nor made aware of was that my PSA had been slowly rising for several years. When my PSA finally reached 2.8 it was suggested that I “might” want to visit with a urologist. Needless to say, weeks later I was shocked to discover that I was facing an aggressive case of prostate cancer.
At the same time, two-thirds of men with elevated PSA levels do not have cancer. It is for these conflicting reasons, I suggest that you consider making an appointment with a urologist anytime you see your PSA numbers consistently rising.
Screening is always your personal choice. However, a family history of either prostate cancer or breast cancer (Both are related to the BRCA 1 and 2 genes) can suggest it would be wise to get a baseline PSA test your late 30’s or early 40’s.
My personal philosophy is do a base line test – You have nothing to lose and … it may save your life.