Prostate Check / PSA Test
Who do I see?
Looking for a Prostate Check/PSA test?
There are many reasons you may be considering asking for a prostate check or PSA blood test. We have made this short leaflet to provide you with some basic information about the blood test to help you decide whether this is something you would like to do. However, this does not replace discussion with your clinician, and we would advise you discuss this with them once you feel ready.
Should I have a PSA blood test?
It’s up to you whether you have a PSA test. Before you decide you may want to find out more about:
- your own risk of prostate cancer
- what the PSA test involves
- the advantages and disadvantages of the test
- any other tests you might need to have after a PSA test
What is the PSA test?
The PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and by prostate cancer cells. It’s normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, and the amount rises as you get older because your prostate gets bigger. A raised PSA level may suggest you have a problem with your prostate, but not necessarily cancer.
Who can have a PSA blood test?
You can have a PSA test at your GP surgery if you’re over 50 and you’ve thought carefully about the advantages and disadvantages. You may also be offered a PSA test if you have certain urinary symptoms e.g. urinating more frequently especially at night, a slow stream, and feeling your bladder has not emptied completely.
What can the PSA blood test tell me?
A raised PSA level can be a sign of a problem with your prostate. This could be:
- an enlarged prostate
- prostate cancer
- Other things can also cause your PSA level to rise:
- vigorous exercise
- urine infection
- digital rectal examination
These must be avoided prior to PSA blood test.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a PSA blood test
- It can help pick up prostate cancer before you have any symptoms.
- It can help pick up a fast-growing cancer at an early stage, when treatment could stop it spreading and causing problems.
- Your PSA level might be raised, even if you don’t have prostate cancer
- The PSA test can miss prostate cancer. 1 in 7 men (15 per cent) with a normal PSA level may have prostate cancer.
- If your PSA level is raised you may need a biopsy. This can cause side effects, such as pain, infection and bleeding. But in most hospitals, men now have an MRI scan first, and only have a biopsy if the scan finds anything unusual.
Being diagnosed with a slow-growing prostate cancer that is unlikely to cause any problems or shorten your life may still make you worry and may lead you to have treatment that you don’t need. Treatments can cause side effects that can affect your daily life, such as urinary, bowel and erection problems. But most men with low-risk, localised prostate cancer now have their cancer carefully monitored instead, and only have treatment if the cancer starts to grow.
What do I do now?
If you would like to consider a PSA blood test, then please contact the practice to book an appointment to discuss this with a clinician. If you still feel you would like more information about the PSA test, then please see the links below: