Patient information – what is a PSA test?
The use of PSA as a screening test for prostate cancer remains controversial because trials have not shown PSA testing for early detection of prostate cancer leads to a reduction in deaths or a longer life for men with prostate cancer. Currently, universal screening is not recommended by most authorities; recommending instead that men make an informed decision. It is possible to have prostate cancer even if the PSA is within the ‘normal’ range; and many men with elevated PSA levels do not have prostate cancer. There may be another cause such as prostate enlargement (known as benign prostatic hypertrophy).
Men thinking about PSA screening should discuss with their doctor the test; the information it provides, especially what it will not tell you; and what further testing may be needed. If men decide they want a PSA test for prostate cancer screening, the combination of a PSA blood test and digital rectal examination (DRE) of the prostate (where the doctor uses a gloved finger to examine the prostate from in the rectum) is preferred, as when both are done there is an improved rate of cancer detection.
Brett, T. (2011). Patient information – what is a PSA test? Australian Family Physician, 40(7), 501.