What is your PSA? The number men 50+ should discuss with their doctor

A prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test is one of the best ways to detect prostate cancer, along with a digital rectal exam (DRE). Both tests look for signs of prostate issues.

Through a simple blood test, physicians measure the amount of PSA in the bloodstream. PSA is produced by the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels could mean issues within the prostate. Though high PSA levels may not always mean prostate cancer, patients diagnosed with prostate cancer usually have elevated levels. To confirm prostate cancer, patients may have to have a DRE and a biopsy.

PSA is measured in nanograms per milliliter of blood, usually written as ng/mL. According to the National Cancer Institute, various factors can cause a PSA level to fluctuate, so there is no normal or abnormal level. A normal test result is 4.0 ng/mL or lower. However, doctors consider a patient’s individual risk of developing prostate cancer when interpreting the results.

Are you at risk for prostate cancer?

The first indicator of average risk of prostate cancer is having a prostate. Risk begins to increase if you are:

  • African American. African Americans are encouraged to speak to their provider about prostate cancer screening starting at age 45.
  • Age 50 or older.
  • Related to someone who has had prostate cancer. Family history is important when determining risk for prostate cancer, especially if the family member is a first-degree relative, like a father, son or brother, who has had prostate cancer before their 65th

If you feel you are at high-risk of developing prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of screening. For more information, click here.