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PSA

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Also known as: Total PSA; Free PSA; Complexed PSA
Formal name: Prostate Specific Antigen

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To screen men for prostate cancer (although there is currently no consensus about using this test to screen asymptomatic men for prostate cancer), to help determine the necessity for a biopsy of the prostate, to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for prostate cancer, and to detect recurrence of prostate cancer

When to Get Tested?

When a man has symptoms suggestive of prostate cancer such as difficult, painful, and/or frequent urination; may also be ordered during and at regular intervals after prostate cancer treatment. There is continued debate among experts and national organizations over when and how often to order the PSA test to screen asymptomatic men. The frequency of prostate cancer screening is an individual decision that should be determined through discussion with your physician. (For specific details, see prostate cancer screening for Adults and Adults 50 and Up).

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in the arm

Test Preparation Needed?

Avoid ejaculation for 24 hours before sample collection as it has been associated with elevated PSA levels; the sample should also be collected prior to your doctor performing a digital rectal exam (DRE) and prior to (or several weeks after) a prostate biopsy.