There is an ongoing debate among men and medical practitioners about the effectiveness of PSA test in determining whether one has prostate cancer. Most men and some medical practitioners believe that having a higher PSA in the blood is an indication of having prostate cancer and those with lower levels are safe. This is a misconception as any man even those with lower PSA levels can have prostate cancer.
A PSA test cannot conclusively test prostate cancer as it is normal for men to have an increased level of PSA in their blood when they grow older. Additionally, some men generally have higher levels of PSA in their blood as a result of infection, medication, having larger prostate or lifestyle. Prostate specific antigen is a protein produced by the prostate and its main function is to produce semen that carries sperms.
PSA tests were previously the primary tool used by many medical practitioners in detecting prostate cancer. When one goes for a prostate cancer test, blood is drawn and the amount of PSA in the blood is measured. It is normal for males to have low amounts of PSA in their blood but having a raised amount of PSA in the blood stream was interpreted by many as having prostate cancer. The fact is that the higher levels may suggest problems in the prostate like enlarged prostate, prostate infection or the likelihood of having prostate cancer.
However, it is important to undertake further tests to determine whether one has prostate cancer and not solely rely on PSA tests . The better test to detect prostate cancer is to undertake a PCA3 which is a urine test that specifically detects prostate cancer. Other secondary tests to determine prostate cancer include undertaking a DRE (digital rectal exam) or using monoclonal antibody technique. These tests can easily be interpreted by an urologist and primary care physicians.
Another misconception is that the PSA test should only be done on men above 50 yeas as they are more at risk of having prostate cancer than younger men. All men no matter the age are expected to undergo regular prostate checkup as all men are at risk of getting prostate cancer. There are no early symptoms of prostate cancer and it is only after a conclusive test that one can know if they have prostate cancer. The PSA test is a prostate test and not a prostate cancer test