A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a time-tested way for doctors to determine if a patient has prostate cancer, but that’s not always the case if your PSA numbers are higher than usual (there can be other conditions that cause this). PSA is a protein found in the blood that can indicate the presence of early disease, as well as determine if treatments are working.
Prostate cancer is most commonly found in men above the age 40 (1 in 8-men will be diagnosed at some point in their life, according to the American Cancer Society). According to the source, it’s also the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the country among the male population (second only to lung cancer). That’s why considering screening is important.
Here’s everything you need to know about the PSA test.
When Should Screening for Prostate Cancer Start?
According to ZeroCancer.org, you should discuss risks and benefits of the PSA test with your physician if you’re between 45 and 75-years old (some sources argue that 40 should be the starting age if you have certain risk factors that we’ll explain later in this article). It also notes you could have a “baseline” PSA test to see if your current levels are within normal range and whether further investigation is required.
Meanwhile, the source says if you’re older than 75, you can still decide with your doctor’s help whether the test makes sense for you. In both age groups, there might also be a digital rectal exam (DRE) to consider that can be an additional diagnostic aid.