What To Expect at Your PSA Screening

Prostate cancer affects 1 in 9 men in the United States, making it the most common cancer in American males. Fortunately, early detection can help get timely and effective treatment. And now it’s even easier, thanks to prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening.

Our team at Urology Associates of Southeastern North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina, offers cutting-edge medical care at our ultramodern practice. When it comes to preventive men's health care, it starts with PSA testing.  

Measuring your risks with PSA

Prostate-specific antigen is a protein produced in prostate tissue that’s also found in your blood. Undergoing PSA testing enables us to measure the specific amount of this protein circulating in your system. 

PSA testing is ultrasensitive, so it’s an easy way to detect prostate cancer before any other signs appear. Detecting the earliest signs of this form of cancer makes it easier to treat and more likely to cure. 

However, having high levels doesn’t always guarantee that you have prostate cancer. Plus, there isn’t a universal PSA level considered normal for men. That’s why we never use PSA results alone to make a diagnosis.

When to get a PSA test

We make personalized recommendations for testing based on your unique needs. 

Generally speaking, men should undergo prostate cancer screening between ages 55 and 69. We could recommend starting your screenings sooner if you have a family history of cancer or other factors that put you at risk, like being African American.

We could also suggest having a PSA test if you have other symptoms, like back or pelvic pain, or urinary issues like increased frequency or discomfort. A PSA test can also help monitor your response to treatment after getting a prostate cancer diagnosis.

Preparing for your appointment

Your PSA test requires a blood sample, so let us know in advance if you use any prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, or vitamins and supplements. Some of these formulas can interfere with your test results. 

Other factors that can affect your PSA results include:

You should also abstain from sex or masturbation for 24 hours before your appointment because ejaculation can elevate your PSA levels.

What to expect during your PSA test

Your PSA test typically takes less than five minutes. We use a small needle to draw blood from a vein in your arm, so you may feel a quick sting when we insert the needle. There are few risks associated with this process, but you may have a small bruise or tenderness where we take your blood sample. 

After collecting your blood sample, we send it to our lab for analysis. Then, your doctor reviews your results and decides on next steps. If your doctor has concerns about your results, they could recommend a few follow-up tests, such as:

While elevated PSA levels don’t guarantee prostate cancer, testing can help to detect problems early on. 

To learn more about PSA testing and prostate cancer screenings, call our office in Wilmington, North Carolina, at 910-421-2505 or request an appointment online today.

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