Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein that your prostate gland makes. PSA testing is one of the most common prostate cancer screenings, and most men should get regular PSA tests beginning around age 50.
High PSA levels could be a sign of prostate cancer — but higher-than-normal levels don’t automatically mean you have the condition. The truth is that your PSA levels can be affected by a variety of factors, and our team at Advanced Urology is here to help you understand your numbers.
If you recently got your PSA results back and you’re wondering what they mean, read on for more information about 10 of the most common factors that can affect your PSA levels.
As you get older, your prostate gland naturally gets larger. Larger prostate size can increase PSA levels, but it could be a sign of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate, and not necessarily cancer.
2. Prostate size
The size of your prostate gland can affect PSA levels, because larger prostates tend to make more PSA. Men with larger prostate glands tend to have higher PSA levels than men with smaller glands. However, your prostate size alone is not a reliable indicator of cancer.
Certain medications can raise or lower your PSA levels. For example, taking alpha-blockers for urinary symptoms can make your PSA levels go down. If you’re taking any medications or supplements, be sure to tell our team before your PSA test so you can get your most accurate results.
Ejaculation can temporarily increase your PSA levels. If you have a PSA test scheduled, avoid sexual activity and ejaculation for at least 48 hours beforehand to help ensure more accurate results.
5. Physical activity
Like ejaculation, vigorous exercise can also cause a temporary increase in PSA levels. Be sure to avoid strenuous physical activity for about 48 hours before a PSA test for accurate readings.
6. Digital rectal exam
A digital rectal exam (DRE) is a common part of your routine physical exams, but DREs can also cause a temporary increase in your PSA levels. For the most accurate results, you should have your PSA test done before your DRE.
7. Prostate infections
Prostate infections, also known as prostatitis, can elevate your PSA levels because inflammation in your prostate gland can make excess PSA leak into your bloodstream. If you notice symptoms like pelvic pain or painful urination, seek medical attention to find out if it could be prostatitis.
8. Prostate biopsy
If you had high PSA levels in the past, you may have gotten a prostate biopsy to check for cancer cells. A prostate biopsy can temporarily increase your PSA levels, so it’s important to wait at least six weeks after a prostate biopsy before getting another PSA test.
9. Family history
Men with a family history of prostate cancer may be at higher risk for developing it themselves. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, your PSA levels may be higher, and we may recommend starting regular PSA screenings at an earlier age.
10. Prostate cancer
Finally, high PSA levels can indicate prostate cancer. But if your PSA results are high, it isn’t a cancer diagnosis. We need to conduct further testing, like a prostate biopsy, to determine the cause of your elevated PSA levels and diagnose your condition.
Your PSA levels can be affected by many different factors. While an elevated PSA level doesn’t necessarily indicate prostate cancer, it’s important to get regular PSA screenings and discuss any concerns with our team.
Schedule your next appointment by calling one of our offices — in Culver City, Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, or San Pedro, California — today, or send us a message online.