A Few Thoughts on Prostatitis
Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland which can cause symptoms such as urinary frequency, pain with urination, elevated PSA, and pelvic pain. While symptomatic prostatitis can have a huge …
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Prostate Specific Antigen better known as PSA helps find prostate cancer when it is still small and confined to the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels in the blood may indicate that prostate cancer is present. However there are several non-cancerous reasons for an elevated PSA. The most common non-cancerous cause of an elevated PSA is a condition called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). BPH is enlargement or swelling of the prostate and may be associated with urinary difficulties. Other reasons for non-cancerous PSA elevations are laboratory errors, prostate infection, and recent sexual activity. Since these causes can be temporary and reversible, the first step toward determining the reason for a rise in PSA is simply to repeat the blood test after a course of antibiotics or after abstaining from sexual activity for a day or two. Often, the PSA will drop back into the normal range with these simple measures.
Not everyone has the same “normal” range for PSA. The normal range for PSA varies because as men get older their prostate glands enlarge due to BPH. The enlarged gland makes more PSA and an allowance has to be made for this fact. The normal range of PSA varies somewhat from lab to lab but here are some general guidelines: For age less than 50 the PSA should be less than 2.0. Between ages of 50 to 60, the PSA should be less than 3.0; between ages 60 to 70, the PSA should be less than 4.0; and for age over 70 the PSA should be less than 5.0.
These age-related, normal ranges for men can partially account for the increased PSA from large prostates in aging men. However, just as with any other physical characteristic, some men have glands that are much larger than average. Your physician has the ability to detect an oversized gland during a digital rectal exam. If the increased PSA level is proportionate to the degree of prostate enlargement your doctor may reasonably conclude that no further testing is necessary.
Everyone should know his own PSA level! Tracking PSA from year to year is a powerful method to detect prostate cancer at an earlier stage. Take responsibility – keeping track of your own PSA from year to year is a fairly simple proposition. PSA variations occur from laboratory to laboratory so the measurements will be more consistent and reliable by using the same laboratory from year to year. Abnormal urinary symptoms such as burning, urgency, or increased urinary frequency at the time of the blood test need to be brought to the attention of your physician because they could indicate an underlying prostate infection that could elevate the PSA level.
PSA is a remarkable tool that has transformed the management of prostate cancer over the last 20 years since its FDA approval in 1988. Powerful tools require proper understanding for correct application. This small essay constitutes a preliminary introduction to a vast field of clinical and scientific endeavor