Prostate Cancer Blood Test
What do Stephen Fry, Jim Broadbent and Nile Rodgers have in common?
They’ve all had prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the single most common cancer amongst men in the UK, and it causes over 11 thousand deaths every year. It really can affect anyone, especially men over 50. While treatment is improving, catching it early is vital to long-term recovery.
What is a Prostate Cancer Blood Test?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst men in the UK. A prostate blood test is known as a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test. A PSA test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in your blood. PSA is produced normally by the cells in your body and circulates in small amounts in your blood. PSA can also be produced by cancerous cells - high levels of PSA can be a sign of problems with your prostate but not necessarily prostate cancer.
What to Expect from the Test?
One of our trained professionals will take a blood sample, this is a quick and routine procedure. Your blood sample is then sent to the lab to be analysed for PSA levels.
What the results can tell you?
There is no singular test available to identify prostate cancer from your blood, but a PSA test can help aid in the diagnosis of prostate cancer and may show warning signs that will help catch cancer early. If you have a higher than normal result from your PSA blood test your doctor may recommend further testing such as an MRI scan, biopsy or a physical examination of the prostate. Early detection can help determine the appropriate and timely treatments required.
The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, as well as the levels of PSA in your blood. While an isolated rise in your PSA levels doesn’t mean your cancer risk has increased, a consistent rise in PSA can be an indication of a higher risk of prostate cancer.
Normal PSA levels do not eliminate the possibility of having or developing prostate cancer. Based on your PSA result, symptoms, age, size of prostate gland and family history of prostate cancer your doctor may recommend you get tested more or less frequently.
A PSA blood test can also be used to monitor the response to cancer treatment and may be used as a tool to check for early signs of cancer relapse. However, A PSA blood test is not specific to prostate cancer. There are other nonnon-cancerous cancerous reasons as to why your PSA value might be high:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), more commonly known as an enlarged prostate, can have an effect on the bladder and urinary tract which can cause similar symptoms to those of prostate cancer.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can lead to a rise in PSA levels.
Prostatitis is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection and causes swelling and irritation to the prostate gland.
You may see a spike in PSA levels after an injury to the prostate or following examination or biopsy.
Surgical procedures in the groin can have an effect on PSA levels in the blood.
Taking certain medications can also cause higher PSA levels.
There are also lifestyle and other medical circumstances which may mean you need to delay having a PSA test. These include:
Wait 48 hours after heavy exercise
Make sure you’re abstinent for 48 hours
If you’ve had a urine infection, leave a 6 week gap
If you’ve had a catheter inserted, leave a 6 week gap
Delay your PSA test if you’ve had a digital rectal examination
Symptoms and Causes of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer usually develops slowly and can go unnoticed without symptoms for several years. Symptoms only appear when the prostate becomes enlarged and puts pressure on the urethra as it passes urine from the bladder out through the penis.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
Feeling like your you need to pee more often especially at night
Feeling a strain when you need to pee
Difficulty stopping or starting urination
Feeling like your bladder has not fully emptied
Blood in the urine or semen·
Sudden onset of erectile dysfunction
Causes of prostate cancer are still unknown but there are certain things that can put you at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer:
The risk of developing prostate cancer is higher in those over 50 years old. Most cases of prostate cancer appear in men over 50.
Men of African or African Caribbean descent are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer for reasons not yet fully understood.
Men who have had a family history of prostate cancer·
Being overweight or obese has also been linked to a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
Baseline PSA Test
A baseline PSA blood test is a blood test taken when your risk of prostate cancer is low, for example when you are in your 40’s. Some studies suggest that having this baseline PSA result can help predict your risk of developing prostate cancer in the future. While further research is needed, using this baseline result to spot changes or sharp increases, it can help monitor your PSA levels and prostate cancer risk over time.
Lifestyle and Prostate Cancer
Sticking to a balanced diet and getting regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. Lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of prostate cancer are:
Controlling your weight
Choosing a low-fat diet
Keeping fit and active
Knowing your personal prostate cancer risk
If you think you might be at risk of Prostate Cancer, it's easy to get tested with Melio. Our General Health Check will check your PSA levels and give you an overview of your personal health. Find out more about getting a General Health Check here, and book your test today. You can also buy a PSA test separately if you prefer.
Pezaro, C et al. “Prostate cancer: measuring PSA.” Internal medicine journal vol. 44,5 (2014): 433-40. doi:10.1111/imj.12407
Merriel, Samuel W D et al. “Prostate Cancer in Primary Care.” Advances in therapy vol. 35,9 (2018): 1285-1294. doi:10.1007/s12325-018-0766-1