A PSA test is used as a screening test to identify prostate cancer. The basic purpose of this test is to determine the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. A high level of PSA may indicate the presence of prostate cancer. However, it is common to get a positive PSA test result if you have an inflamed or enlarged prostate. Apart from these conditions, you may get a false-positive result due to other reasons. Continue reading this article to find out.
What to consider before a PSA test?
Here are a few things you should avoid before going for a PSA test.
- Sexual activity: You have to abstain from any sexual activity that leads to ejaculation 48 hours before the test. The reason is that a recent ejaculation can raise the PSA level leading to a false-positive result.
- Heavy exercise: Strenuous physical activity such as weightlifting, swimming, bike riding, etc., should be avoided for a few days before a PSA test. This can also cause a slight rise in the PSA level.
- Urinary tract infection: If you have an active urinary tract infection or taking any medicines for it, consult your physician before going for a PSA test. An active UTI can affect the test results.
- Medications: Certain medicines may influence your PSA level. These include NSAIDs, statins, chemotherapy drugs, and medicines for urinary health. Ask your physician if a change of dosage is required in these medications before a PSA test.
- Prostate biopsy: If you had a prostate biopsy in the previous 6 weeks, consult your physician before going for a PSA test. Your results can get affected because of it.
Why should I get a PSA test done?
PSA test is a screening test to identify the presence of prostate cancer. Even if you do not have any symptoms, prostate cancer can develop and progress to a severe stage. PSA test can help in diagnosing it at an early stage.
It needs to be kept in mind that PSA test results are not conclusive of prostate cancer. Your PSA level can be high in conditions like benign enlarged prostate, prostatitis, prostate stimulation, etc. A false-positive result is possible even if you do not have any active disease.
If your test results are positive, your doctor may offer to perform a digital rectal examination (DRE) to look for lumps or abnormalities in your prostate. This is done by inserting a gloved finger into your rectum to reach your prostate.
However, if prostate cancer is suspected, a prostate biopsy can only achieve a conformational diagnosis.
Who should get a PSA test?
The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men in the age range of 55 to 69 should consider getting a PSA test done. The purpose is to eliminate the risk of prostate cancer. Although prostate cancer can develop in any individual, the following people are at higher risk:
- Obese men
- Older men, especially those over the age of 60
- Family history of prostate cancer
- Those who have a sedentary lifestyle
- Those with a fatty or unhealthy diet
- African-American men
High-risk men should get a PSA test done to diminish the risk of prostate cancer. It can also help in the early diagnosis of prostate cancer if it is present. Early diagnosis can lead to better treatment and a good prognosis.
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