What is the prostate?

  • Part of the male reproductive system
  • Located below the bladder and in front of the rectum
  • Surrounds the tube that empties urine from the bladder (urethra)
  • Function is to produce fluid that is part of the semen

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men

  • In 2007, 223,307 men in the U.S. were diagnosed with prostate cancer & 29,093 died from the disease
  • Most common treatments of prostate cancer include:
  • Active surveillance (watchful waiting)
  • Prostatectomy (surgery to remove the gland)
  • Radiation (external or internal)

What are risk factors for developing prostate cancer?

  • Age (65 and older)
  • Family history of prostate cancer (father or brother)
  • Race (African American – higher risk; Asian & Native American – lower risk)
  • Diet (high in fat)

What is prostate-specific antigen (PSA)?

  • PSA is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland in men
  • A low level of PSA in the blood is normal
  • Prostate cancer or non-cancerous conditions can increase a man’s PSA level
  • Examples of non-cancerous conditions
  • Inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis)
  • Enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH)
  • Inflammation or infection in the body
  • Recent ejaculation

What is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test?

  • The FDA has approved the use of PSA test along with a digital rectal exam to detect prostate cancer in men 50 years of age or older
  • Men at higher risk for prostate cancer (family history, African American) may be advised to be screened at age 40 to 45
  • The level of PSA in the blood is measured from a blood sample
  • PSA level at or below 4 ng/mL is considered normal
  • PSA test is used as prostate cancer screening tests to help detection of prostate cancer in men with no symptoms of this cancer, which leads to detection in its early stages
  • PSA level alone is not used to determine cancer
  • Your doctor can use the result of the PSA test to decide if further tests are need to check for prostate cancer

What are limitations of the PSA test?

  • PSA test may detect a small tumor, but may not always save lives
  • False positive & false negative tests can occur
  • False positive – PSA level is elevated, but individual does not have prostate cancer
  • False negative – PSA level is normal, but prostate cancer is present