In this post, we are going to give you some information about the PSA test – a blood test that can help indicate the state of your prostate health. We explain who can have a PSA test, what will happen if you take a Prostate Health Test, and what the PSA results might mean.

What is the PSA test?

Cancer Research UK define the PSA test as “a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. It can help to diagnose prostate cancer.”

PSA is a protein that is produced by both normal and malignant cells of the prostate gland. The levels of PSA can be elevated in people with prostate cancer. However, there are also other reasons for PSA levels to be high including inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) which is the enlargement of the prostate. There is no evidence that either of these conditions leads to prostate cancer, but you can develop prostate cancer as well as having one or both of these conditions.

Why is the Prostate Health Test important?

The Prostate Health Test is important as it detects abnormal levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) in the blood. It has been designed to detect levels of PSA above the expected normal range, and produce a visual result in minutes.

Prostate cancer is less common in men below the age of 50 and the average age of diagnosis is over 70. This test can provide an indication of a pre-clinical condition before any symptoms develop.

What can affect the PSA level?

PSA (prostate specific antigen) is also produced by healthy cells in the prostate meaning it is normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, and this level can rise as you get older due to the fact that your prostate gets bigger.

An enlarged prostate, prostatitis or prostate cancer can cause your PSA levels to rise, as well as:

  • Anal sex and prostate simulation – Receiving anal sex or having your prostate stimulated during sex can raise your PSA level for a while, so it may be an idea to avoid this for two to three days before you take the PSA test
  • Ejaculation – Ejaculation can also raise your PSA levels so we advise that you avoid any sexual activity that leads to ejaculation in the 24 hours before you take the PSA test
  • Medicines – Some medicines can reduce your PSA level and give a false test result, so if you talk to your DR after taking this test you should mention any medicines you are on
  • Other tests or surgery – If you have had any tests or surgery on your bladder or prostate, such as a prostate transurethral resection/biopsy (TURP) then you should wait four to six weeks before taking a PSA test
  • Urine Infection – Having a urine infection can raise your PSA level, and so this will need to be treated. You will need to wait until the infection has gone before you take a PSA test – and this usually takes around six weeks
  • Urinary Catheters – If you have a catheter in to drain the urine from your bladder then you may need to wait up to six weeks before taking a PSA test
  • Vigorous Excercise such as cycling or ergometry – It is best to avoid vigorous exercise for 48 hours before a PSA test is taken

What does the PSA test involve?

PSA is a protein secreted by the prostate gland into semen. A part of the protein is released into the bloodstream, meaning the blood PSA level indicates the health of the prostate. A higher than normal PSA level can therefore indicate a problem with the prostate.

The SELFCheck Prostate Health Test uses antibodies that specifically detect PSA to produce a coloured line under the T mark on the cassette. A control line that captures excess antibodies appears as a coloured line under the C mark on the cassette.

The amount of PSA in your blood is measured in nanograms (a billionth of a gram) per millilitre of blood (ng/ml). Prostate Health Test detects when the PSA level in the blood is above 4ng/ml calibrated against the World Health Organisation (WHO) reference.

What will the Prostate Health Test results tell me?

If the result is positive then it means that the PSA level in your blood is higher than normal (4ng/ml). You should contact your doctor to talk about your test results.

If the result is negative then it means that the PSA level in your blood is in the normal range (less than 4ng/ml).

If you are between the ages of 50 and 70 or have a family history of prostate cancer, it is recommended to take the PSA test regularly. This is a good way to spot any changes in your PSA levels that may suggest prostate cancer.

Further reading

For more information on prostate cancer and related diseases, take a look at:

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