Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men in the U.S.A. This cancer can only occur in men, because the prostate is part of the male reproductive tract. Men over the age of 50 are at the highest risk to develop this cancer and prostate cancer is responsible for more male deaths of any other cancer except lung cancer.
Discovering prostate cancer most often happens during a physical examination. Another way the cancer is found is through blood tests, such as the PSA. PSA is an acronym for prostate specific antigen. PSA is an enzyme produced exclusively by prostate cells. A small amount of PSA is continuously leaked into the bloodstream by prostate cells. This allows for the measurement of a PSA blood test.
For men 60 and younger, the normal PSA level is up to 2.5 ng/ml. For men older than 60, the range is 4.0 ng/ml, because the prostate usually enlarges and makes more PSA with age. A prostate cancer cell can produce 10 times more PSA than a normal cell. As the cancer cells multiple, more PSA is released into the bloodstream, causing the PSA blood test to have a result above the averages within a man’s age bracket.
Average Prostate Specific Antigen of Men with Prostate Cancer:
The average prostate specific antigen is 7.2 ng/ml, however there is a wide variation. Men can be treated for cancer with a PSA as low as 0.3 ngl/ml and as high as 430 ngl/ml. Fifteen percent of men have a PSA below the “normal” range of 4.0 ng/ml. Men can be classified into four PSA groups based on his PSA.
– Group 1: Up to 4.0 ng/ml
– Group 2: 4.1 ng/ml – 10.0 ng/ml
– Group 3: 10.1 ngl/ml – 20.0 ng/ml
– Group 4: Above 20.0 ng/ml
Example: I am a 64 year old with a PSA of 6.3 ng/ml:
In general the amount prostate PSA levels in the blood are an indicator of the amount of cancer present in a man. More PSA usually means more cancer. A PSA of 6.3 ng/ml places this man in a PSA group of 4.1 – 10.0 ng/ml. This prostate specific antigen level would suggest this man has slightly less cancer than the average prostate cancer patient.
Connection between PSA and the Amount of Cancer Present:
Some prostate cancers will not produce a lot of PSA. These instances are called low PSA producing cancers. Low PSA cancers can fool doctors. Some of the most advanced cancers are low PSA. For this reason a PSA blood test cannot be used as the only indicator of if a man has cancer. The PSA is a good indicator of the amount of cancer that is present, but the test is not perfect. Your doctor should be conducting other tests and also determining your Gleason score to better determine if cancer is present and if so, how severe it is.
The most important information in this article is to become educated about prostate cancer. Once you have learned about the cancer you will be better prepared to make a decision about treatment and your doctor. It is not difficult to learn about this type of cancer and about the treatments performed by each type of doctor. There are many different ways to treat prostate cancer, so it is critical you spend time to learn about all of them. With limited exceptions there is only one shot at being cured, so take the time to make an informed decision.
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