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How to Read PSA Test Results

How to Read PSA Test Results

Elevated levels of PSA in the body indicates an increase in the risk of prostate disorders like cancer. This article will teach you how to read PSA test results.
Kalpana Kumari
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
There is a small gland encircling the urethra in males. It is called a prostate gland. It produces the fluid, which makes up the semen. The cells of the prostate gland produce an antigen called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Most of it is secreted into the semen. Only a small amount of it is released into the bloodstream. The test which is done to measure the level of PSA in the bloodstream is called PSA test. It gives information about the prostate health. The data is used by the doctors as a marker for tumor and for screening and monitoring prostate disorders like cancer. In tha article below, you will learn how to read PSA test results.
Raised Levels
The level of PSA rises under certain conditions. A digital rectal examination (DRE) may cause a rise in the level. That is why, medical practitioners often conduct DRE test at the end, whenever it has to be performed. A biopsy may also increase the level. Other conditions are strenuous exercise, chemotherapy drugs, some kind of medications, and prostate infections. A knowledge of the PSA test result will always help you in taking good care of your health.
How To Read?
PSA is measured in nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood (ng/ml). The values are compared against the normal ranges listed by the laboratory. The normal ranges usually differ from laboratory to laboratory and from doctor to doctor. Thus, a certain value may give a different possibility of the development of prostate disorders for different people.
A point worth mentioning here is that this test alone is not diagnostic of prostate cancer. Generally, it is followed by a DRE, wherein the doctor examines the prostate structure to find out enlargements, tumors, or swellings. If required, the doctor may carry out a prostate biopsy. The biopsy of normal or enlarged prostate involves removal of a small amount of tissue for testing. It is done to test suspicious findings. The result is often related with factors, like age, drug consumption, and data obtained from DRE and infection screen. The purpose is to find out if additional testing is required.
Interpretation
A doctor is the best person who can accurately interpret the result of this test. There has been some disagreement among the medical professionals regarding the exact meaning. However, according to majority of them, the normal value is 0.4 nanograms per milliliter of blood. If a person has a level anywhere between 4.0 and 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood, he is taken as having a 25 per cent increased danger of developing prostate cancer. In case a person has a level greater than 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood, he is at a higher than 65 per cent risk of developing prostate cancer.
Remember, that the aforementioned results need not be clear. Many times, the doctors recommend an additional test called a "free PSA" to determine if the elevated levels are "free PSA". A higher ratio of free PSA means a lower risk of prostate cancer. On the other hand, a lower ratio indicates a higher possibility of prostate cancer. The doctors often observe the change in the concentration of PSA over a certain period of time. If the level remains elevated for a period of 3-4 years, the person is likely to suffer from prostate cancer. The doctors may also take help of the data obtained from PSA test like velocity and density of PSA to find if the person is at a risk of developing some kind of prostate disorder.
The information given by the present article is what most of the medical practitioners believe. It may be different for different doctors. So, you should visit a doctor for understanding the results with respect to your medical state.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.