As men age, the screenings that are recommended to them by their general healthcare provider change. One such screening that can present a bit of stress is the PSA. This blood test is performed to measure the amount of prostate-specific antigen coursing through the veins. A high number has historically been perceived to mean the presence of cancer cells in the prostate. Therefore, a high PSA number can be alarming. Often, it creates unnecessary fear. So, we want to make a Public Service Announcement, or PSA, on PSA.
Potential causes of elevated prostate-specific antigen include:
- Inflammation of the prostate gland. This is referred to as prostatitis. The underlying cause of this inflammation is often a minor, treatable infection.
- Who would ever top to think that their exercise habits could be the reason behind elevated PSA? It isn’t so much ongoing exercise habits that can affect screening outcomes; it’s the timing of exercise before testing. Do yourself a favor, don’t exercise the morning of the day you have a PSA screening scheduled.
- Urinary tract infection. We usually hear of urinary tract infections in women. However, men may also develop this mild condition. Treatment with oral antibiotics is usually effective at resolving this issue.
- It is somewhat expected that a man will have elevated PSA levels as he grows older. This could coincide with benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlargement of the prostate gland.
Follow Up on a High PSA
This routine blood test is the first-line screening for prostate cancer, not a confirmation of that disease. If PSA number is elevated, follow up may include taking a biopsy of tissue from the prostate. This procedure takes only a few minutes and is made comfortable through the use of local anesthetic. What most men report feeling is a momentary sensation of pain as tissue is removed. This passes very quickly and does not have lingering side effects.