Cancer Issues
Some Factors That May Skew Your PSA Test Results
Oct 30, 2017 - 11:29:25 AM

( - Most men in their 50s, who face an increasing risk of prostate cancer as they age, are familiar with the common screening exam known as the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. But many are less familiar with how the test works and why different factors, such as prescription medications and infections, can influence the test results.

"The PSA test does not specifically check for prostate cancer itself, but rather for the presence of a molecule in the blood naturally made by the prostate," said Dr. Christopher Saigal, vice chair of urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Too much of the molecule in the blood can be a sign that the patient has prostate cancer."

Here are common factors to be aware of that could change your PSA test results.

Saigal says that doctors administering a PSA test for patients taking finasteride will typically double the test results to achieve a comparable reading.

It's important to remember that a PSA test alone isn't sufficient for a cancer diagnosis. Most men with an elevated PSA level – the equivalent of anywhere from 4 to 10 nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood – don't have prostate cancer, Saigal says.

If any of these factors match your lifestyle, it's worth a conversation with your doctor as you prepare to take a PSA test.

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