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Prostate Cancer Screening Guide: Navigating Results and Taking Action

How to proceed with high PSA levels

Mairi Sutherland

Medically reviewed by

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Key takeaways
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  • The PSA test is an important initial step in screening for prostate cancer.
  • Other things can cause high PSA, but it is important to rule out prostate cancer first.
  • Prostate cancer is often asymptomatic, so know your risk factors and screen regularly.

Did you know that approximately one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime?1

It is one of the most common cancers in American men,2 but if caught early, individuals have over a 99% survival rate for the five years following their diagnosis.3 Gain peace of mind with imaware's Prostate Cancer Screening Test to determine if you need to visit your doctor for further testing.

Prostate-Specific Antigen

In men, or people assigned male at birth, the prostate gland is a chestnut-sized gland located right under the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is an essential part of the male reproductive and urinary systems.4

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by specific cells in your prostate, is tested by healthcare professionals as part of an initial screening process for prostate conditions.5 High PSA is a sign of possible issues, primarily prostate cancer. Since this cancer is often asymptomatic,6 in addition to monitoring for symptoms of prostate cancer, you should maintain regular screenings and be aware of your risk level.

Elevated PSA levels

Though high PSA is a sign of prostate cancer, other factors may influence your PSA levels. Here are a few to keep in mind: 

  • Age: Basic PSA levels do increase with age, but so does the risk of prostate cancer.78 Your risk drastically increases after 50, and it is most commonly diagnosed over the age of 65.9
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): BPH is a condition in which the prostate is enlarged, often causing discomfort and difficulty urinating.10 It is common in men over the age of 50, significantly affecting men over 75 years of age.11 Talk to your doctor if you think you have BPH and consider trying these six natural remedies for an enlarged prostate.
  • Inflammation and infections: Prostatitis, the inflammation of the prostate often caused by an infection, has been found to impact your PSA levels.1213 Studies have also observed that urinary tract infections (UTIs) can increase PSA levels.1415
  • Recent ejaculation: Ejaculation can temporarily increase PSA measurements and should be avoided before taking a PSA test to prevent interference.16

If you receive high PSA results, contact your healthcare provider immediately to start the process of ruling out or diagnosing prostate cancer. Your doctor may perform a digital rectal examination (DRE) before recommending further steps towards a diagnosis.17 Possible treatments for prostate cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, drug therapy and more.18

Staying healthy 

Here's the thing about prostate cancer: the best thing you can do is be aware of risk factors you can't change (age, race and family history), keep up with regular screenings and talk to your healthcare provider immediately if you have concerns.19 Beyond that, few lifestyle changes have been thoroughly proven to help prevent prostate cancer. 

You can, however, implement some new habits to keep your body healthy and better able to heal should you ever be diagnosed. Healthy habits include:20

  • Eat wisely: Decrease your consumption of saturated fats by limiting your meat, oil and dairy intake. Foods with high sugar or sodium content should also be limited. Try to eat more fruits, vegetables and essential nutrients like omega-3s and vitamin D.
  • Drink and smoke sparingly: Alcohol and cigarettes are known risk factors for other cancers, so limit your drinks and do not smoke.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise is a great way to improve all sorts of systems in your body and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Summary

A high PSA result does not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer, but it does indicate that something is going on with your prostate, so please consult your healthcare provider. 

By reading this article, you’re taking an important step in caring for your prostate health even if you didn’t receive elevated results. Remember that early-stage prostate cancer is often asymptomatic, so awareness of your risk factors and regular screenings are key to safeguarding your health. 

Updated on
February 7, 2024
High PSA and No Cancer? 7 Reasons for High PSA that Aren't Cancer
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At a higher risk for prostate cancer? Check your PSA levels today.
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REFERENCES

  1. American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  2. American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  3. National Cancer Institute - Surveillances, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. Cancer Stat Facts: Prostate Cancer. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  4. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. How does the prostate work? Accessed August 17, 2022
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is Screening for Prostate Cancer? Accessed August 17, 2022.
  6. American Journal of Managed Care. Management of Early-Stage Prostate Cancer. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  7. Medical Journal of Australia. Prostate-specific antigen levels in men aged 70 years and over: findings from the CHAMP study. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  8. British Journal of Urology. Relationship between Prostate Specific Antigen, Prostate Volume and Age in the Benign Prostate. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  9. American Cancer Society. Prostate Cancer Risk Factors. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  10. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). Accessed August 18, 2022.
  11. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Prostate Enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia). Accessed August 18, 2022.
  12. Translation Andrology and Urology. Does normalizing PSA after successful treatment of chronic prostatitis with high PSA value exclude prostatic biopsy? Accessed August 18, 2022.
  13. International Urology and Nephrology. Does asymptomatic inflammation increase PSA? A histopathological study comparing benign and malignant tissue biopsy specimens. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  14. BJU International. Prostatic involvement in men with febrile urinary tract infection as measured by serum prostate-specific antigen and transrectal ultrasonography. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  15. Urology. Evolution of free, complexed, and total serum prostate-specific antigen and their ratios during 1 year of follow-up of men with febrile urinary tract infection. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  16. Urology. Ejaculation increases the serum prostate-specific antigen concentration. Accessed August 18, 2022.
  17. National Cancer Institute. Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  18. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Is Prostate Cancer Treated? Accessed August 17, 2022.
  19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Who Is at Risk for Prostate Cancer? Accessed August 18, 2022.
  20. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Prostate Cancer: Prevention. Accessed August 18, 2022.

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