Understanding PSA – I_D

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Understanding PSA

Your PSA level is moderately elevated. About one in three men with a moderately elevated PSA level will be found to have early stage prostate cancer if a biopsy is performed. Early stage prostate cancer rarely causes symptoms, and your prostate may feel totally normal when examined by your doctor (digital rectal exam). One piece of good news is that early stage prostate cancer can often be cured.

The other piece of good news is that most men with a moderately elevated PSA level don’t have prostate cancer. Instead, their PSA level has risen for another reason, such as:

  • benign growth of the prostate gland (also known as BPH or benign prostatatic hyperplasia)
  • a prostate infection or urinary tract infection
  • damage to the prostate caused by a surgery or trauma.

Therefore, if your PSA level is between four and ten , the first thing to find out is whether you may have had any of the following within the past two months:

  • a prostate or bladder infection
  • urinary symptoms such as burning with urination, dribbling, hesitancy, or pain in the groin
  • prostate or bladder surgery
  • a bladder catheter used to drain urine while you are in the hospital or during minor surgery
  • trauma to the groin, for example, a major car or industrial accident.

Have you experienced any of these conditions?

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