PSA, or Prostate-Specific Antigen, is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous cells of the prostate gland. A small amount of this protein in the male bloodstream is actually normal as it assists in the process of liquefying semen.
Why is a PSA Screening Important?
PSA screening is important in identifying prostate cancer early on, when treatment is the most effective. The NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) recommends screening for all men aged 45 to 75 years old. In men with increased risk, such as African Americans, or those with a family history, they recommend PSA screening starting at age 40.
PSA testing can be done with a simple, widely available blood test and the benefits are extensive, including:
- Some cancers are more likely to spread to other parts of the body and should be controlled immediately. Others can be quick-growing cancers and are likely to cause other problems. In both cases, it is imperative to detect cancer early before it becomes life threatening or causes serious symptoms.
- In some cases, identifying cancer early means less aggressive treatment is needed, and perhaps no treatment at all in 20% of cases, thus reducing the risk of certain side effects like erectile dysfunction and incontinence.
- For some men, knowledge can provide a certain amount of reassurance. If your PSA is normal, prostate cancer is unlikely. If it is abnormal, an in-office biopsy may be needed.
Screening of PSA levels can be done with ease by sending a small blood sample to a laboratory for analysis. A blood sample with a higher measurement of PSA can be an indication of prostate cancer and, as noted above, a prostate biopsy may be recommended.
Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in men, second only to lung cancer. Because September is Prostate Awareness Month, there is no better time to share insight on the PSA screening process, and the significant difference screening can have in reducing your risk of developing prostate cancer and catching it early when curable.
If you are interested in having a PSA screening or have any questions, please contact us by clicking here.