Men and the PSA Test: What You Need To Know

Are you a male who is over the age of 40? If you answered YES, this article is for you!

Prostate cancer screening has been a controversial topic in recent years. Some experts think every man should be screened after a certain age while others say screening may only result in over treatment. I believe that screening is an effective tool that should be used, as long as it is done properly.

Fact, 1 in 6 men will develop prostate cancer. While the risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, early detection through routine screening may mean more effective treatment. Prostate Cancer Canada strongly recommends that all men over the age of 40, speak with their doctor about getting a baseline test for the prostate specific antigen (PSA). PSA is a protein produced by the cells within the prostate gland. A  BSA blood test can be used as a screening test in the early detection of prostate cancer.

I believe that baseline screening is the key to the PSA screening tool’s success. Here’s why; some men normally have low levels, some average and some high of PSA in their blood. But, ot isn’t necessarily how high your PSA is that is important, it is how fast your PSA rises that can tell us that prostate cancer is likely. Without the baseline screening while you are young and healthy, it is impossible to determine if you’re PSA has risen above its original baseline level, and how quickly it has done so.

With that being said there are still many limitations of the PSA test including:

Detection of prostate cancer may not mean increased survival: PSA testing may detect slow growing tumors which are unlikely to threaten a man’s life. Also, it may not help a man who has a fast growing cancer that has already spread to other parts of his body.

False-positive tests: This occurs when the PSA is elevated but no cancer exists. False positives can lead to other medical tests and procedures and cause the patient unnecessary anxiety.

False-Negative tests: Occur when cancer is present, however blood levels of PSA remain low. In this case, baseline testing is very helpful as subsequent tests will show a rise in PSA indicating prostate cancer presence.

 Researchers are currently investigating other ways to detect prostate cancer which may be used alone or in combination with the PSA test. However, in the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, speak with your doctor or pharmacist about PSA screening, and/or having a baseline PSA test completed. Together, you and your health care provider can determine if the PSA screening test is right for you.

It is important for every man to know and recognize the symptoms of prostate cancer, so that they can seek medical attention and begin treatment quickly in the case of developing prostate cancer. The symptoms of prostate cancer may begin slowly or suddenly, but are often ignored, or mistaken for other common conditions. Symptoms include: frequent urination, blood in the urine, weak/interrupted urine flow, pain or burning while urinating, inability to urinate and/or consistent pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.

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