The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - Fine-Needle Aspiration (FNA) of the Breast
Harvard Health Publications
Order the Book
Contact Us

Sign up for our free e-mail newsletter, HEALTHbeat.  
Email Address:
 
First Name (optional):
 
 
Special Health Information Reports
Incontinence
Weight Loss
Prostate Disease
Vitamins and Minerals
Aching Hands
See All Titles
Browse Health Information
Common Medical Conditions
Wellness & Prevention
Emotional Well Being & Mental Health
Women’s Health
Men’s Health
Heart & Circulatory Health
About the Book
New Information
About the Team
Order the Book
Return to the Family Health Guide Home Page
  Harvard Health Publications
contact us

What is the test?

  • A man’s prostate produces a protein called "prostate-specific antigen" that can be measured in the blood. Some diseases, including prostate cancer, cause the prostate to make a larger quantity of this protein. By measuring prostate-specific antigen levels in your bloodstream, doctors may be able to find prostate cancers in their early stages.

    Doctors still disagree about whether it is a good idea for all men to have this test done after they turn 50. One reason is that many prostate cancers that are found by the PSA test are destined to remain tiny areas inside the prostate gland, never to spread and cause medical problems. Discovering such cancers can cause great anxiety, if a man chooses to have no treatment for them. If a man opts for treatment, he may suffer the possible side-effects of treatment (such as loss of sexual function, or leakage of urine) in order to treat a cancer that would never have grown and spread.

    At the same time, detecting cancers that are destined to spread at an early stage can be life-saving. Doctors are working hard on techniques that will distinguish those prostate cancers that are destined to spread, and those that are not. You should definitely discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of having this test done before you proceed.

Would you like to:
 




©2000–2006 President & Fellows of Harvard College

Sign Up Now For
HEALTHbeat
Our FREE E-mail Newsletter

In each weekly issue of HEALTHbeat:

  • Get trusted advice from the doctors at Harvard Medical School
  • Learn tips for living a healthy lifestyle
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in health
  • Plus, receive your FREE Bonus Report, Living to 100: What's the secret?

[ Maybe Later ] [ No Thanks ]