Thursday, November 22, 2012

What is a PSA Test?

If you’re age 50 or over, you probably have had to undergo a PSA test. You know that it has something to do with your prostate but what does it measure? Is it really necessary? What does it tell you about your prostate’s health?

  • What does the PSA test measure?

We’ll try not to get into too many details but give you enough information to help you understand what’s going on. PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. It is basically a protein that the prostate gland produces that is carried in the blood of every man. So during the test, the assistant or doctor will draw your blood and test it in the lab to measure the amount of PSA it contains. It is measured in nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood.

  • Is it necessary?

If you’re having prostate problems, most doctors will advise that you test your PSA levels and undergo a digital rectal exam (DRE) in order to rule out cancer. However this test is not very accurate at all. It gives enough data to be dangerous.

  • How could a simple test be dangerous one wonders?

1.      There is no normal real normal range for this test. Most doctors consider 4ng/mL to be the benchmark and anything below is low PSA and anything higher is considered elevated PSA. It naturally follows that this test has been known to give a lot of false-positives and false negatives. Patients to get false-positives usually find out it was false in a biopsy which itself might leave the patient with a prostate infection or some other complication.

2.      The true positives it gives can be misleading because elevated PSA might be indicative of a small tumor that might not affect a man throughout his entire life. Instead now he has to go through the various cancer treatments that do affect his life and may leave lasting side-effects like incontinence, erectile dysfunction or problems urinating. This is known as ‘overtreatment’ and does much more harm than good.

3.      The patients that do have a high PSA because of rapidly growing cancer might not benefit from this test either since the cancer might have already spread to many different parts.
While we are not saying that the PSA test is only harmful, the results of the test need to be interpreted with great caution and skill. Other factors like free PSA need to be taken into account before deciding if a biopsy is necessary after an elevated PSA result comes up.

  • What does it tell you about your prostate’s health?

Even if the PSA tells you little about how the prostate is doing, there are ways to promote prostate health. Eating the right foods and getting enough exercise is one way to have a healthy prostate. Conditions like Enlarged Prostate might be the very difficult to live with but supplements like SuperBeta Prostate help provide beta-sitosterol and a dozen other nutrients that promote prostate health. Reviews and Super Beta Prostate super beta prostate testimonials  have been great and since it’s natural, it’s worth a try and will not have harmful side-effects. Your doctor’s opinion is crucial in matters of the prostate (even ask him/her whether you should take prostate supplements) so make sure you trust your doctor before any invasive procedures. 

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