4 Things a PSA Test Doesn’t Indicate

by Ben Ong
Reading Time: 3 minutes

psa test unreliable

PSA stands for “prostate specific antigen”. It is a protein produced by prostate cells and prostate cancer cells also produce PSA. A PSA test is used to measure the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood and for many men a PSA test can be an early means of detecting prostate cancer. However, while the test can be effective in determining a man’s PSA level, recent studies have shown that the PSA test alone, is not an accurate indicator of prostate cancer.

In fact, a high PSA level does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. There are cases in which some men who don’t have prostate cancer are diagnosed with it. Some of these men end up undergoing unnecessary and dangerous invasive treatments with many long-term adverse effects.

As a result, doctors do not automatically recommend the PSA test for men who don’t have symptoms. Instead, they perform further assessment by looking at one’s risk of prostate cancer.

Here are 4 things that a PSA Test doesn’t measure.

 

1)  Why your numbers are higher

You may be surprised to learn that a high PSA isn’t necessarily indicative of prostate cancer. There are a number of factors that can contribute to a high PSA and not all of them are cancer-related. For example, as a man ages, his PSA naturally increases, regardless of a prostate problem.

Urinary tract infections are another factor that can cause PSA levels to rise. Any infection near the prostate gland can irritate and inflame prostate cells, which causes PSA to increase, producing a falsely high result.

Some studies have found that exercise, such as cycling can also cause a rise in PSA. In a 2011 study showed that biking increased PSA by up to 25%. For that reason, are advised not to exercise 24 hours prior to their test.

 

2) If you need treatment

One of the main discrepancies with the PSA test is that it results in some men undergoing treatment that was unnecessary to begin with.

To put it in perspective, one study found that for every 1,000 men that undergo a PSA test, approximately 25 will suffer from erectile dysfunction, 3 will require pads for urinary incontinence, and 1 will be hospitalized from sepsis, which is a life-threatening infection that can occur from a biopsy.

This is not due to the PSA test itself but future procedures that a PSA test can lead to. Therefore, the PSA test can lead to having an unnecessary invasive procedure that can cause a serious infection.

A PSA test alone will not determine whether or not you need treatment, and it is important to recognize that the test alone is not an accurate indication of cancer. Doctors will need to conduct additional tests before recommending invasive procedures that can significantly impact your quality of life.

 

3) If your treatment is working

If you are undergoing treatment for prostate cancer PSA test may not indicate if your treatment is working.  Although PSA levels are a good way of measuring cancer, as discussed previously a rise in PSA may not mean a spread in cancer.

Invasive treatments, such as a biopsy can actually lead to a rise in PSA, as the procedure causes trauma to the prostate gland. Therefore, it is often recommended that men do not have a PSA test until 2- 3 weeks later.

 

4)  If it has spread

While a rise in PSA can indicate prostate cancer, it can’t determine when or where the cancer has spread. As a result, a biopsy might be recommended. While this helps to pinpoint whether or not you have cancer, it can have some very unsavory side effects, including bleeding, infection and sexual incontinence.

Even if you take many samples, biopsies can still sometimes miss a cancer. This occurs if none of the biopsy needles pass through the rights areas. Thus, the biopsy will have a false-negative result. In fact, one study found that biopsies detected only 67.8% of prostate cancers.

 

When it comes to diagnosing prostate cancer and raising awareness, the PSA test has an important role.  A raised PSA level can be a sign of a problem and a PSA test can help diagnose that problem. However, while the test has its benefits, it’s also important to remember that it is not always a reliable indicator and should be followed by other tests.

Before taking a PSA test, you have to make sure that it will work for you. That is why it’s very important to talk with your doctor and have him/her assess your condition carefully and thoroughly

 

4 Things a PSA Test Doesn’t Indicate
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  1. Stephen

    Ben,
    First what I would like to say I am in the medical billing profession for the past 30 years and have been shocked to say the least on what I have been finding out. I too went for a routine physical a year ago and found out my PSA had risen to 6.0 in a years time. I am 55 very active athletic healthy. Once I started my investigation
    from a patients point of view and not from a business point of view, my eyes have been awaken. I have been taking your supplements for about 6 months and I honestly can say that I do feel even stronger than before. I also will let you know I have not had any symptoms PC at all. I do have HP controlled it is in my family.
    I would like your opinion of a book that I hope you have read called THE GREAT PROSTATE HOAX by Richard J. ABLIN. Please email me back at your convenience. Thank you for your time.

    • Ben Ong

      Hi Stephen, its great to hear that my supplements are helping you and that you see an improvement! Regarding the ‘Great Prostate Hoax’, we’re in complete agreement that the PSA test should not be the sole test for Cancer – it’s why we put together the Advanced Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment. However, we do think of it as a useful tool for indicating BPH or the need for further review. We’re completely conscious of the devastating impact of overtreatment, which is the whole reason for our natural solution to the problem. I’m sure the team here would be happy to discuss further, but it sounds like you’re already pretty well read on the matter. Always good to know – the most important thing is to be informed! Wishing you good health.

  2. Sandy Cortese

    Can you kindly advise as to what other procedures are available that are less invasive than a biopsy in determining the severity of an individuals Prostate Cancer?
    I have had a biopsy over two years ago and unfortunately spent 4 days in the hospital recovering from the infection! I have told my doctors that I will NEVER go through this procedure again!

    Please advise as to what other tests are available for an individual who has had this disease for the last nine years.

  3. Larry

    My PSA climbed from 6 to 10 in the matter of a year. After taking Total Health and reading Bens newsletters for years I insisted on an MRI before the biopsy. The MRI showed it is likely I do not have cancer. No biopsy needed. Great…

  4. Floyd

    I’ve also read many times that even if prostate cancer was detected it is a very slow growth cancer and the chances of someone (say in his 80s) of dying from other causes is extremely likely before the cancer becomes problematic.

    • Ben Ong

      That’s exactly right, Floyd. The word “cancer” can often be such a shock to the system that people will automatically jump to do anything to get rid of it. But in the case of early stage, localized prostate cancer (where the cancer remains in the prostate), according to one study, you have a 1% risk of dying from prostate cancer over 10 years, regardless of whether the tumour is treated with surgery, radiotherapy, or active surveillance.

      Ben

  5. Albert F. Everett

    I do not trust the medical profession . I’ve seen time and time again they do procedures for the money . Because of there invasions and not listening to what I was saying they killed my wife as they think they are god and above all us peons.
    One even has a sign on his Chemo Cafe as he calls it. ” Leave your troubles outside as you are now in Gods hands “

    • Ben Ong

      I’m terribly sorry to hear that Albert. Yet unfortunately, that does often seem to be the case. Profit over patients, as I’ve said before. It’s tragic.

      Ben

  6. j guillote

    i am 76 years old psa in feb this year was 4.1 one month ago it has went up to 5.6, i am very active, walk 4 miles a day and still have sex. going to take another psa test, in early dec. not sure what to do if goes up

    • Ben Ong

      Hi James,

      If it goes up again, please give us a call on 1-888-868-3554. We will gladly listen and give you some advice which you could then discuss with your doctor.

      Ben

  7. Phillip McQueen

    I strongly believe that all medical practitioners and experts are doing what they can
    to improve all health issues.

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