What Type of Prostate Cancer Tests Detect It Early?
Prostate cancer is an abnormal condition in the male body that commonly goes under the radar for a significant amount of time. While every individual may experience varying levels of severity – if they have cancer at all – symptoms will occur differently between patients. If symptoms of prostate cancer are noticeable in any way, you should consider a screening test to determine your current condition. Screening tests are not necessarily conclusive, but their readings will give you knowledgeable insight on your next steps to remediate the cancerous cells before they intensify. Below will describe the various screening tests available that can detect prostate cancer early on so remedial treatment can be quickly applied.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test
One of the prostate cancer tests your urologist or health care provider may use for early detection is the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test. PSAs are a substance found in both prostate gland cells, semen and occasionally in the blood. This examination takes samples of a man’s blood to test PSA levels for the presence of cancer. Both malignant and healthy prostate cells secrete PSA, which allow technicians to weigh the quantity developing from potentially cancerous tumors. These protein samples are extracted and sent to a lab for closer examination before results are returned for you and your doctor to review. This screening test is measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) with normal levels reading at a 4. As PSA levels rise, a man’s chances for cancer increase, however anything below a 4 does not guarantee that he is cancer free either – although it is rare.
Types of PSA Tests
There are different ways your doctor may approach your PSA screening test. Below will briefly describe the available PSA examinations that may be utilized to detect the early development of prostate cancer.
This PSA examination tests the ratio of PSA freely circulating in the blood without a binding protein with the total level of PSA. This test is a great secondary exam for men with borderline results from their first PSA (4-10). A lower percent-free PSA means prostate cancer is of higher probability.
This prostate cancer test is the opposite of the previous strategy discussed. A complexed PSA examination analyzes the total PSA that is not “free” – or has a no protein attachment.
PSA Velocity records how fast PSA rises within a given timespan. PSA levels typically rise slowly with age, but rapid quantitative growth has shown to be common in men with cancer. This test is not conclusive and is more routinely used as an accessory measure to another PSA test.
A PSA Density (PSAD) prostate cancer detection test is used for men with large prostate glands. A transrectal ultrasound is used to measure the size of the prostate so your physician can divide the reflective PSA levels with the volume of the gland. A higher density in a large gland is a tell tale detection of prostate cancer.
Some physicians may choose to combine PSA tests together for one, centrally comprehensive result. This is utilized in hopes to get a more accurate and well-rounded result compared to other detection approaches. Two tests commonly used together include the prostate health index (PHI) and the 4kscore test. The results from both examinations are combined to create one “single” prostate cancer test.
Reading PSA Levels
Doctors all have different standards of reading the results of your PSA screening tests. For example, many professionals may argue that the normal PSA reading is not 4, but somewhere in between 2.5 to 3. Physicians must also take into account your age, race, and family history while determining your condition. These traits are additional circumstances that can cause changes in your PSA levels.
What Affects PSA Levels?
PSA levels are susceptible to fluctuations that aren’t caused by the presence of cancer. Your doctor must take this into account before making a final decision for your diagnosis. Below are the outlying factors that may raise or lower a man’s PSA readings.
Higher PSA Levels
- Enlarged Prostate
- Urological Procedures (i.e. prostate biopsy & cystoscopy)
- Male Hormone Medications (i.e. Testosterone)
Lower PSA Levels
- Herbal Mixtures
- Thiazide Diuretics
- Reductase Inhibitors
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
The PSA screening test is not the only way to detect prostate cancer early. A Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) is another examination approach your doctor may choose as a precautionary measure. Your physician will insert a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities near the prostate. Cancers can often form in the back of the prostate, which can be easily felt throughout a rectal exam. This type of prostate cancer testing is especially useful when PSA levels are reading normal even though cancerous growths may be present. A DRE exam is commonly utilized as an accessory procedure to help with prostate cancer detection.
Prostate Cancer Screening in New Jersey
Prostate cancer can develop slowly without any serious symptoms early on. The prostate cancer screening with Somerset Urological Associates will help you discover if cancer is present in your body. If cancer is detected, receiving a prostate biopsy will provide you with the conclusive details you need after precautionary screening is performed. SUA and our team of board certified urologists are dedicated to providing you the comprehensive treatment you need to live a healthy life. To learn more about SUA, please contact us today with any questions and view our services to see how we can help you with your urologic concerns today! For additional information please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on what’s going on in our Somerville, New Jersey office.