June 19, 2017

What factors can affect your PSA levels?

Prostate specific antigens, usually shortened to the acronym PSA, occur naturally in the prostate. PSAs are present in every man’s bloodstream. However, abnormally high levels of PSA may be a sign of prostate cancer.

That said, more often than not, if your blood test shows high PSA levels, the cause is something besides prostate cancer. Sometimes, the elevated levels can be caused by very common variables. A minor infection, a simple surgical procedure or even having sex before a PSA test could cause a worryingly high number.

Physical characteristics

Your age is an important factor. PSA levels over 2.5 ng/mL (that means nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood) would be cause for concern for men under 50. For men over 60 years of age, however, PSA levels under 4.5 ng/mL are considered normal. The amount of naturally occurring PSA in your blood gets higher as you age. Furthermore, people of certain ethnic groups, may have naturally higher PSA levels.

Way of life

Certain activities are not recommended before taking a PSA test. If you exercise vigorously less than 48 hours before your PSA test, you could experience elevated PSA levels. This is especially common in people who ride bicycles for extended periods of time.

Anal sex or prostate stimulation within a week of a PSA test could lead to a high PSA number. Moreover, although not proven, ejaculation in the 48 hours before a PSA test could lead to a "false positive" test.

Your health

An enlarged prostate, a condition known as BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), can cause elevated PSA levels. Though this problem is not as serious as prostate cancer, it can cause trouble urinating. BPH does not cause cancer, however. It is quite common, affecting about half of all men by the age of 75.

Mild infections in the prostate are common in older men, but acute infections can cause other symptoms. If you are diagnosed with prostatitis you should wait until the infection is fully treated before taking (or retaking) a PSA test.

Urinary infection, a similar infection in the urinary tract, which is adjacent to the prostate, can cause high PSA levels. After this infection is fully treated, you should wait 4-6 weeks before retaking the PSA test.

Medical interventions

Finally, if you have had a prostate biopsy in the past six weeks, your PSA levels may be significantly elevated. It is best to wait for at least six weeks to pass before retesting.

Any operation in the area near your prostate could cause a temporary spike in PSA levels.

It is important to keep these variables in mind when you are planning to get a PSA test. Being properly prepared can limit the chances of getting a high PSA number for some reason other than cancer. This will increase the effectiveness of the test when it comes to the early detection.


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