Cancer Level Prostate PSA – Important Facts to Know

August 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer Test

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The male body produces an enzyme that is almost constantly present in the bloodstream called the prostate specific antigen. For various reasons, the level of this protein in the blood may rise or drop depending on certain activities that the man performs, or experiences that he has. For instance, the prostate specific antigen (PSA) level in a man generally rises and stays up for as long as 24 hours after he has had sexual intercourse. However the level usually remains below 4.0ng/ml in all men unless something is wrong.

Prostate cancer is one of those things that may go wrong in the body to cause a rise in the level of PSA in a man’s bloodstream. There are other diseases too that may cause a PSA spike, especially other so-called prostate disorders such as prostatitis and benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH). This is generally to say that the PSA levels in the blood of a patient alone do not provide sufficient information for a prostate cancer diagnosis – other tests generally have to be carried out as well, especially the diagnostic prostate biopsy.

The biopsy is a process whereby tissue samples from the prostate gland are extracted and studied under the microscope. If a man has prostate cancer, anomalies will be seen in the biopsy that will confirm it and even show the extent of deviation. However, the results of the PSA test come in handy afterward as effort is made to determine just how much the cancer has progressed and what stage it presently is in.

In addition, a patient’s PSA levels are monitored conscientiously once he has been diagnosed, especially during and after treatment. For instance, if a patient happened to undergo a radical prostatectomy in order to cure the cancer, his PSA levels are expected to plummet to zero shortly afterwards. If this does not happen, then there is cause for concern.

Again, it does not imply that the patient is suffering a relapse of the condition, but at the very least, the supportive screening and diagnostic tests have to be carried out in order to determine if indeed he had been underdiagnosed earlier, or if the adenocarcinoma was actually coming back.

On a final note, there are forms or manifestations of prostate cancer that do not cause any notable changes in PSA levels, making them particularly difficult to diagnose. Such cancers, mostly small cell sarcomas are usually quite advanced before they are detected, and are often very aggressive in nature, and also very resistant to therapy. The safest way to be sure is to do the biopsy.

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