PSA Blood Test – Normal Range, Low, High Levels

PSA is also known as Prostate Specific Antigen. This is a type of glycoprotein enzyme that is embedded in man by the KLK3 gene. This antigen is secreted by the epithelial cells in the prostate gland. PSA helps in ejaculating sperm as it changes the seminal coagulum into liquid form. This aids the sperm to flow and swim freely. This antigen also plays a pivotal role in dissolving cervical mucus so that sperm can easily enter the mucus.

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PSA is also found in limited quantities in men who have healthy prostates. However the levels are elevated in case of prostate cancer. It is better that the PSA levels are checked regularly every 6 to 36 months and this period varies from case to case. These levels normally need to be monitored after treatment of prostate cancer.

In case surgery is successful to remove all prostate tissue, then PSA levels may become totally absent within 14 days or so. However there could be an evident rise in level by 0.2 ng/dL and this may reveal residual benign prostate tissue or recurrent prostate cancer. In this case, further tests will show accurate results.

PSA levels may also be detected after radiation therapy for prostate cancer. This may be possible even the treatment is done with. Hence it could be tough to make a note of the connection between the regularity of prostate cancer and PSA levels. The levels may also start decreasing after radiation therapy for several years. The lowest PSA level is also called nadir. However subsequent increase of PSA levels by 2.0 ng/dl above the lowest determined level or ‘nadir’ can be accepted.

High PSA levels that goes from 4 to 10 indicates 25 percent chances of prostate cancer, according to the information given by American Cancer Society. Elevated PSA levels which is more than 10 indicates 50 percent probability of prostate cancer.

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If prostate cancer recurs after a rise in PSA levels and after treatment, then it is known as biochemical recurrence. This recurrence could be due to various reasons like the stage of cancer and PSA levels before treatment took place. The levels are normally low and 4 ng/mL is said to be fine. In case there are increased PSA levels, then there are chances of prostate cancer. However cancer can also develop though there is no increase in PSA levels. Delayed detection of PSA levels may lead to advanced stages of prostate cancer. PSA levels can also increase due to other complications such as recent ejaculation, benign prostatic hyperplasia, irritation and prostatitis.

Normal PSA range

Given below is a table that recommends normal PSA levels for people in different age groups.

Age

<50

50 – 59

60 – 69

>70

(years)

Cancer No cancer Cancer No cancer Cancer No cancer Cancer No cancer
5th percentile 0.4 0.3 1.2 0.3 1.7 0.3 2.3 0.4

(ng/mL)

95th percentile 163.0 2.5 372.5 4.7 253.2 8.3 613.2 17.8

Some of the factors that increase PSA levels include age, no ejaculation before 2 days of test, inflammation of the prostate gland and enlargement of the prostate which is not cancerous. Levels above 4 can indicate chances of suffering from prostate cancer. It is best to let the doctor know what medications you are taking before conducting the test. PSA levels need to need to be regularly monitored before and after prostate cancer treatment.

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