Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Lab Tests and health information

The PSA test is a blood test used to screen for prostate cancer and measures prostate-specific antigens in the blood that are produced by cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate in men.  Order from Ulta Lab Tests today with results sent confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours.

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In men over 50 years with total PSA between 4.0 and 10.0 ng/mL, the percent (%) free PSA gives an estimate of the probability of cancer. In these circumstances the measurement of the % free PSA may aid in avoiding unnecessary biopsies. Elevated levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) have been associated with benign and malignant prostatic disorders. Studies indicate that in men 50 years or older measurement of PSA is a useful addition to the digital rectal exam in the early detection of prostate cancer. In addition, PSA decreases to undetectable levels following complete resection of the tumor and may rise again with recurrent disease or persist with residual disease. Thus, PSA levels may be of assistance in the management of prostate cancer patients.

This panel contains Testosterone, Total, Males (Adult) Only #873 which is for males 18 years of age and older only.

Please note: If this panel is ordered for a pediatric (under 18 years of age) patient or female patient, the lab will automatically change the test to and charge for Testosterone, Total, MS #15983.

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Description: PSA Total is a test that is used to measure the total amount of PSA in the blood. There are two types of PSA, complex and free, and this test will measure the total sum of both. This test does not specify how much of each. If a measure of each amount is desired the test PSA, Free and Total #31348 will be able to differentiate between each one.

Also Known As: Prostate Specific Antigen Test, PSA Test, Prostate test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is this test ordered?

PSA is commonly ordered as a routine test in men over the age of 55, or 40 if they have a relative who has had prostate cancer. It is used to help identify, diagnose, and monitor prostate cancer. This test should also be ordered if the patient is having difficulty urinating or it becomes painful to do so.

The guideline is to start testing at age 40 or 45 for people at high risk, such as African-American men and men with a family history of the condition.

A healthcare professional may schedule a repeat test a few weeks later if the total PSA level is elevated to see if the PSA concentrations have returned to normal.

When a man's total PSA is significantly elevated, a free PSA is usually ordered. The results provide further information to the healthcare professional regarding whether the person is at an elevated risk of prostate cancer and aid in the choice to biopsy the prostate.

The total PSA may be conducted at regular intervals during the treatment of men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, as well as when a man is on "watchful waiting" and not currently being treated for his cancer.

What is being tested?

PSA is a protein produced predominantly by cells in the prostate, a tiny gland that surrounds the urethra in males and generates a fluid that is a component of semen. The majority of PSA produced by the prostate is discharged into this fluid, but minor amounts can also be found in the bloodstream. This test determines how much PSA is present in the blood.

The PSA test is used to screen for and monitor prostate cancer as a tumor marker. It's a good tool, but it's not perfect, and most experts agree that asymptomatic men should only be screened after having a detailed discussion with their healthcare professionals about the benefits and dangers, and after making an informed decision to do so. PSA levels that are high are linked to prostate cancer, but they can also indicate prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperplasia. PSA levels rise with age in all men, but men of African American ancestry may have greater levels than other men, even at a younger age.

PSA is not a cancer indicator. The prostate biopsy, which involves taking small samples of prostate tissue and examining them under a microscope for abnormal cells, is the gold standard for detecting prostate cancer. The total PSA test and the digital rectal exam are used to evaluate whether a prostate biopsy is necessary.

The purpose of prostate cancer screening is to discover the disease when it is still contained within the prostate. Once the diagnosis of prostate cancer has been verified by biopsy, a treatment decision must be determined. As men get older, prostate cancer becomes more common, and many, if not all, of the tumors are slow-growing. While prostate cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in men, slow-growing prostate cancer is a rare cause of death. A pathologist may be able to tell the difference between cancers that grow slowly and spread to other regions of the body and cancers that grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body.

Overdiagnosis and overtreatment are two challenges that health professionals are currently dealing with. In certain situations, the treatment is worse than the cancer, with substantial side effects including as incontinence and erectile dysfunction possible. In general, neither the PSA test nor the DRE can indicate how a person's condition will progress.

In the blood, PSA is found in two forms: complexed and free. The total PSA test, which analyzes the sum of complexed and free PSA in the blood, is the most often used PSA test.

When the total PSA is only slightly raised, the free PSA test is occasionally used to help assess whether a biopsy should be performed. PSA is an enzyme, and when it is released into the bloodstream, some circulating proteins link to it and inactivate it. In BPH, benign prostate cells produce PSA that is not active, whereas malignant prostate cells produce PSA that is already protein-bound.

As a result, men with BPH tend to have greater levels of free PSA, while men with prostate cancer have lower levels. Even if total PSA is not dramatically raised, a relatively low amount of free PSA raises the chances of cancer.

Related Tests and Panels:

  • CEA
  • Tumor Markers

Related Conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy

Commonly Asked Questions:

How is this type of test used by my health care provider?

Both the PSA test and the digital rectal exam can be used to screen for prostate cancer in both asymptomatic and symptomatic men. PSA is a protein produced predominantly by prostate cells. The majority of PSA is released into the sperm, although minor amounts are also released into the blood. PSA is found in the blood in two forms: free and complexed. PSA levels can be measured in the lab as either free or total PSA.

Some organizations, such as the United States Preventive Services Task Force, believe that the risks of over-diagnosis and over-treatment outweigh the potential advantages of PSA screening in healthy men of any age, and advise against using PSA to test for prostate cancer in healthy men of any age. Before deciding whether or not to be screened for prostate cancer, the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association urge that men consider the benefits and drawbacks of PSA-based screening with their healthcare professional.

While elevated PSA levels are linked to cancer, they can also be produced by disorders like benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate inflammation. A biopsy may be required in the case of an increased PSA, which carries the risk of consequences such as discomfort, fever, blood in the urine, and urinary tract infection.

Even though prostate cancer is the second most frequent cancer in males and the second leading cause of death, many prostate tumors grow slowly. These slow-growing kinds may never create symptoms or pose a threat to one's life. Prostate cancer discovered by screening, on the other hand, may be treated with surgery or radiation therapy, which can have major side effects like incontinence or erectile dysfunction.

Because the total PSA test might be temporarily raised for a variety of causes, if an initial PSA is elevated, a follow-up PSA may be performed a few weeks later to see if the PSA is still elevated. If the repeat test shows an elevated level, a healthcare professional may suggest taking a series of PSAs over time to see if the level drops, stays elevated, or rises. When a cancer looks to be slow-growing, the healthcare professional and patient may decide to watch its progress rather than treat it right away.

A free PSA test can be done to look at the ratio of free to total PSA if the DRE is normal but the PSA is considerably increased. This can assist distinguish between prostate cancer and other sources of increased PSA that aren't cancer.

If either the PSA or the DRE are abnormal, other testing may be ordered. A urinalysis, for example, can be used to screen for a urinary tract infection, and imaging tests like an ultrasound can be used to inspect the prostate.

The total PSA test may be used as a monitoring tool to help determine the success of treatment if prostate cancer is diagnosed. It may also be ordered following therapy at regular intervals to identify cancer recurrence.

What do my PSA Total test results mean?

PSA test results can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and the cutoff values used by different laboratories may differ.

Total PSA levels below 4.0 ng/ml are considered unlikely to indicate the existence of prostate cancer. Some argue that this limit should be reduced to 2.5 ng/ml in order to detect more prostate cancer cases. Others contend that this might result in more malignancies being diagnosed and treated that aren't clinically important.

Men with a total PSA level of more than 10.0 ng/ml are thought to be at a higher risk of prostate cancer.

Total PSA readings of 4.0 to 10.0 ng/ml may suggest prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or prostate inflammation. These problems, as well as an increase in PSA levels, are more common among the elderly. The "gray zone" is defined as total PSA levels between 4.0 and 10.0 ng/ml. The free PSA may be beneficial in this range.

Prostate cancers produce primarily complexed PSA rather than free PSA. Prostate cancer cells create more free PSA, which does not bind to proteins. As a result, when men in the gray zone have lower levels of free PSA, they have higher levels of cPSA and a higher risk of prostate cancer. When individuals have high amounts of free PSA but low cPSA, however, the danger is reduced. The ratio of free to total PSA can assist the patient and his healthcare professional in determining whether or not a prostate biopsy is necessary.

Additional analyses of PSA test results are occasionally utilized to improve the total PSA's efficacy as a screening tool. They are as follows:

  • PSA velocity is the rate at which PSA concentrations fluctuate over time; if the PSA continues to climb rapidly over time, prostate cancer is more likely. If it rises quickly, the patient may be suffering from a more aggressive kind of cancer.
  • PSA doubling time is a kind of PSA velocity that quantifies the rate at which the PSA concentration doubles.
  • PSA density is a comparison of PSA concentration and prostate volume; if the PSA level is higher than one would predict given the size of the prostate, the likelihood of cancer is higher.
  • PSA ranges adapted to a man's age—Because PSA values typically rise with age, it has been advocated that normal ranges be customized to a man's age.

The PSA level should start to drop with prostate cancer treatment, and should be very low or undetectable at the end of treatment. If concentrations do not drop to extremely low levels, the treatment is ineffective. Following treatment, the PSA test is repeated at regular intervals to check for recurrence of cancer. Because even small increases can be important, persons who are impacted should have their monitoring PSA tests done by the same laboratory each time to reduce testing variation.

A test known as "ultrasensitive PSA" may be helpful in detecting cancer persistence or recurrence after therapy. PSA is detected at significantly lower levels in this test than in regular PSA tests. Increases in PSA related to the persistence or return of cancer, it has been proposed, can be detected much sooner using this test. The results of this test, however, should be regarded with caution. Because the test is so sensitive, even when no cancer is present, minor rises in PSA levels can occur from one time to the next.

Is there anything else I should know about the Prostate Specific Antigen Total test?

The blood sample is normally taken before the DRE since the DRE can induce a brief increase in PSA.

PSA levels will be dramatically elevated following prostate procedure such as biopsy or excision. Before surgery or six weeks after manipulation, a blood test should be performed.

A brief increase in PSA level can be caused by strenuous physical activity that affects the prostate, such as cycling. Ejaculation within 24 hours of a PSA test can result in higher PSA values, thus it's best to avoid it.

Some chemotherapy medicines, such as cyclophosphamide and methotrexate, can raise or lower PSA levels in high dosages.

PSA levels may briefly rise in some men as a result of other prostate problems, particularly infection. According to a research, nearly half of men with high PSA levels saw their levels return to normal after a period of time. Before taking any further action, several authorities urge that a high PSA be repeated between 6 weeks and 3 months following the initial high PSA. If there is indication that the prostate is infected, some doctors will prescribe antibiotics.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical physician for proper interpretation of your results.

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Dipstick urinalysis is important in accessing the chemical constituents in the urine and the relationship to various disease states. Microscopic examination helps to detect the presence of cells and other formed elements.

NOTE: Only measurable biomarkers will be reported.

IMPORTANT - Culture, Urine, Routine #395 can Reflex to additional testing and charges, detailed below, if Culture is positive.

If culture is positive, CPT code(s): 87088 (each isolate) will be added with an additional charge.  Identification will be performed at an additional charge (CPT code(s): 87077 or 87140 or 87143 or 87147 or 87149).

Antibiotic susceptibilities are only performed when appropriate (CPT code(s): 87181 or 87184 or 87185 or 87186).

  • ORG ID 1. $ 12.45 
  • ORG ID 2. $ 23.95 
  • PRESUMPTIVE ID 1. $ 12.45 
  • PRESUMPTIVE ID 2. $ 23.95 
  • SUSC-1  $14.95 
  • SUSC-2  $28.95

Clinical Significance

Culture, Urine, Routine - This culture is designed to quantitate the growth of significant bacteria when collected by the Clean Catch Guidelines or from indwelling catheters.  Quantitative culturing of urine is an established tool to differentiate significant bacteruria from contamination introduced during voiding. This test has a reference range of less than 1,000 bacteria per mL. More than 95% of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are attributed to a single organism. Infecting organisms are usually present at greater that 100,000 per mL, but a lower density may be clinically important. In cases of UTI where more than one organism is present, the predominant organism is usually significant and others are probably urethral or collection contaminants. When multiple organisms are isolated from patients with indwelling catheters, UTI is doubtful and colonization likely.

The BUN/Creatinine ratio is useful in the differential diagnosis of acute or chronic renal disease. Reduced renal perfusion, e.g., congestive heart failure, or recent onset of urinary tract obstruction will result in an increase in BUN/Creatinine ratio. Increased urea formation also results in an increase in the ratio, e.g., gastrointestinal bleeding, trauma, etc. When there is decreased formation of urea as seen in liver disease, there is a decrease in the BUN/Creatinine ratio. In most cases of chronic renal disease the ratio remains relatively normal.

Description: A Comprehensive Metabolic Panel or CMP is a blood test that is a combination of a Basic Metabolic Panel, a Liver Panel, and electrolyte panel, and is used to screen for, diagnose, and monitor a variety of conditions and diseases such as liver disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. 

Also Known As: CMP, Chem, Chem-14, Chem-12, Chem-21, Chemistry Panel, Chem Panel, Chem Screen, Chemistry Screen, SMA 12, SMA 20, SMA 21, SMAC, Chem test

Collection Method: 

Blood Draw 

Specimen Type: 


Test Preparation: 

9-12 hours fasting is preferred. 

When is this test ordered:  

A CMP is frequently requested as part of a lab test for a medical evaluation or yearly physical. A CMP test consists of many different tests that give healthcare providers a range of information about your health, including liver and kidney function, electrolyte balance, and blood sugar levels. To confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis, abnormal test results are frequently followed up with other tests that provide a more in depth or targeted analysis of key areas that need investigating. 

What is being tested? 

The complete metabolic panel (CMP) is a set of 20 tests that provides critical information to a healthcare professional about a person's current metabolic status, check for liver or kidney disease, electrolyte and acid/base balance, and blood glucose and blood protein levels. Abnormal results, particularly when they are combined, can suggest a problem that needs to be addressed. 

The following tests are included in the CMP: 

  • Albumin: this is a measure of Albumin levels in your blood. Albumin is a protein made by the liver that is responsible for many vital roles including transporting nutrients throughout the body and preventing fluid from leaking out of blood vessels. 

  • Albumin/Globulin Ratio: this is a ratio between your total Albumin and Globulin  

  • Alkaline Phosphatase: this is a measure of Alkaline phosphatase or ALP in your blood. Alkaline phosphatase is a protein found in all body tissues, however the ALP found in blood comes from the liver and bones. Elevated levels are often associated with liver damage, gallbladder disease, or bone disorder. 

  • Alt: this is a measure of Alanine transaminase or ALT in your blood. Alanine Aminotransferase is an enzyme found in the highest amounts in the liver with small amounts in the heart and muscles. Elevated levels are often associated with liver damage. 

  • AST: this is a measure of Aspartate Aminotransferase or AST. Aspartate Aminotransferase is an enzyme found mostly in the heart and liver, with smaller amounts in the kidney and muscles. Elevated levels are often associated with liver damage. 

  • Bilirubin, Total: this is a measure of bilirubin in your blood. Bilirubin is an orange-yellowish waste product produced from the breakdown of heme which is a component of hemoglobin found in red blood cells. The liver is responsible for removal of bilirubin from the body. 

  • Bun/Creatinine Ratio: this is a ratio between your Urea Nitrogen (BUN) result and Creatinine result.  

  • Calcium: this is a measurement of calcium in your blood. Calcium is the most abundant and one of the most important minerals in the body as it essential for proper nerve, muscle, and heart function. 

  • Calcium: is used for blood clot formation and the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. 

  • Carbon Dioxide: this is a measure of carbon dioxide in your blood. Carbon dioxide is a negatively charged electrolyte that works with other electrolytes such as chloride, potassium, and sodium to regulate the body’s acid-base balance and fluid levels.  

  • Chloride: this is a measure of Chloride in your blood. Chloride is a negatively charged electrolyte that works with other electrolytes such as potassium and sodium to regulate the body’s acid-base balance and fluid levels. 

  • Creatinine: this is a measure of Creatinine levels in your blood. Creatinine is created from the breakdown of creatine in your muscles and is removed from your body by the kidneys. Elevated creatinine levels are often associated with kidney damage. 

  • Egfr African American: this is a measure of how well your kidneys are functioning. Glomeruli are tiny filters in your kidneys that filter out waste products from your blood for removal while retaining important substances such as nutrients and blood cells. 

  • Egfr Non-Afr. American: this is a measure of how well your kidneys are functioning. Glomeruli are tiny filters in your kidneys that filter out waste products from your blood for removal while retaining important substances such as nutrients and blood cells. 

  • Globulin: this is a measure of all blood proteins in your blood that are not albumin. 

  • Glucose: this is a measure of glucose in your blood. Glucose is created from the breakdown of carbohydrates during digestion and is the body’s primary source of energy. 

  • Potassium: this is a measure of Potassium in your blood. Potassium is an electrolyte that plays a vital role in cell metabolism, nerve and muscle function, and transport of nutrients into cells and removal of wastes products out of cells. 

  • Protein, Total: this is a measure of total protein levels in your blood. 
    Sodium: this is a measure of Sodium in your blood. Sodium is an electrolyte that plays a vital role in nerve and muscle function. 

  • Urea Nitrogen (Bun): this is a measure of Urea Nitrogen in your blood, also known as Blood UreaNitrogen (BUN). Urea is a waste product created in the liver when proteins are broken down into amino acids. Elevated levels are often associated with kidney damage. 

Related Tests and Panels: 

  • Complete Blood Count with Differential and Platelets
  • Iron and Total Iron Binding Capacity
  • Basic Metabolic Panel
  • Lipid Panel
  • Vitamin B12 and Folate
  • Prothrombin with INR and Partial Thromboplastin Times
  • Sed Rate (ESR)
  • C-Reactive Protein

Related Conditions: 

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Hypertension

Commonly Asked Questions: 

How is this test used by my health care provider? 

The comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a broad screening tool for assessing organ function and detecting diseases like diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease. The CMP test may also be requested to monitor known disorders such as hypertension and to check for any renal or liver-related side effects in persons taking specific drugs. If a health practitioner wants to follow two or more separate CMP components, the full CMP might be ordered because it contains more information. 

What do my Comprehensive Metabolic Panel test results mean? 

The results of the tests included in the CMP are usually analyzed together to look for patterns. A single abnormal test result may indicate something different than a series of abnormal test findings. A high result on one of the liver enzyme tests, for example, is not the same as a high result on several liver enzyme tests. 

Several sets of CMPs, frequently performed on various days, may be examined to gain insights into the underlying disease and response to treatment, especially in hospitalized patients. 

Out-of-range findings for any of the CMP tests can be caused by a variety of illnesses, including kidney failure, breathing issues, and diabetes-related complications, to name a few. If any of the results are abnormal, one or more follow-up tests are usually ordered to help determine the reason and/or establish a diagnosis. 

Is there anything else I should know? 

A wide range of prescription and over-the-counter medications can have an impact on the results of the CMP's components. Any medications you're taking should be disclosed to your healthcare professional. Similarly, it is critical to provide a thorough history because many other circumstances can influence how your results are interpreted. 

What's the difference between the CMP and the BMP tests, and why would my doctor choose one over the other? 

The CMP consists of 14 tests, while the basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a subset of those with eight tests. The liver (ALP, ALT, AST, and bilirubin) and protein (albumin and total protein) tests are not included. If a healthcare provider wants a more thorough picture of a person's organ function or to check for specific illnesses like diabetes or liver or kidney disease, he or she may prescribe a CMP rather than a BMP. 

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical physician for proper interpretation of your results.

Please note the following regarding BUN/Creatinine ratio: 

The lab does not report the calculation for the BUN/Creatinine Ratio unless one or both biomarkers’ results fall out of the published range. 

If you still wish to see the value, it's easy to calculate. Simply take your Urea Nitrogen (BUN) result and divide it by your Creatinine result.  

As an example, if your Urea Nitrogen result is 11 and your Creatinine result is 0.86, then you would divide 11 by 0.86 and get a BUN/Creatinine Ratio result of 12.79. 

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Serum creatinine is useful in the evaluation of kidney function and in monitoring renal dialysis. A serum creatinine result within the reference range does not rule out renal function impairment: serum creatinine is not sensitive to early renal damage since it varies with age, gender and ethnic background. The impact of these variables can be reduced by an estimation of the glomerular filtration rate using an equation that includes serum creatinine, age and gender.

High concentrations of acid phosphatase are found in the prostate gland. Significant amounts are also found in platelets, bone, spleen, kidney and liver. Prostatic Acid Phosphatase (PAP) is a component of total acid phosphates and is a major constituent in seminal fluid and is also secreted in the urine. PAP is normally found in serum in very low levels. PAP measurement has found clinical application in the management of prostatic cancer patients. Serum PAP measurements have been useful in monitoring remission or relapse of a prostatic malignancy and in assessing the effectiveness of various treatment regimes. Thus, normalization in serum PAP levels has been observed following successful therapeutic intervention, while recurrent or residual disease has been associated with elevated levels of PAP.

Clinical Significance

For post-prostatectomy patients. The lower limit of accurate quantification for this assay is 0.02 ng/mL. PSA values less than 0.02 ng/mL cannot be accurately measured and will be reported as less than 0.02 ng/mL. Specimens with PSA levels below the lower limit of accurate quantification should be considered as negative. In patients with a negative result for post-prostatectomy PSA, serial monitoring of PSA levels at regular intervals, along with physical examinations and other tests, may help to detect recurrent prostate cancer.

PSA, Post Prostatectomy with HAMA Treatment

Patient Preparation: Draw before rectal examination or biopsy procedure

Methodology: Immunochemiluminometric Assay (ICMA) 

Reference Range(s)

  • <0.10 ng/mL After radical prostatectomy
  • ≤4.0 ng/mLIn healthy males without prostatectomy
  • PSA values obtained with different assay methods or kits cannot be used interchangeably.


Elevated serum PSA concentrations have been reported in men with prostate cancer, benign prostatic hypertrophy, and inflammatory conditions of the prostate.

This test is useful in the differential diagnosis of male hypogonadism. For males 18 years of age and older only. Pediatric and Female patients will need to order Testosterone, Total, MS #15983.

Due to changes in testosterone levels throughout the day, two morning (8:00-10:00 a.m.) specimens obtained on different days are recommended by The Endocrine Society for screening.

Please note: If Testosterone, Total, Males (Adult) Only #873 is ordered for a pediatric or female patient, the lab will automatically change the test to and charge for Testosterone, Total, MS #15983.

This test can report a value up to 3000 ng/dL. any number >3000 will be stated as >3000.

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Urea is the principle waste product of protein catabolism. BUN is most commonly measured in the diagnosis and treatment of certain renal and metabolic diseases. Increased BUN concentration may result from increased production of urea due to (1) diet or excessive destruction of cellular proteins as occurs in massive infection and fevers, (2) reduced renal perfusion resulting from dehydration or heart failure, (3) nearly all types of kidney disease, and (4) mechanical obstruction to urine excretion such as is caused by stones, tumors, infection, or stricture. Decreased urea levels are less frequent and occur primarily in advanced liver disease and in overhydration

Every year in the United States nearly 250,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. This can be an extremely daunting time for them and their loved ones. However, an early diagnosis can have a huge impact on your treatment plan and chances of survival. 

An early diagnosis can put your 5-year survival rate at more than 99%! However, as the American cancer society will tell you, this is only possible if you get tested.

So how do you get a prostate cancer test, and what does this involve? If you are concerned about getting a PSA test, read on to find out more!

What is Prostate Cancer? 

Your prostate is an integral part of your body's reproductive system and produces the seminal fluid that transports sperm. It is a small gland that sits just below your bladder and in front of your rectum. 

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in America and affects this small gland. To begin with, most people will not notice it because symptoms can take a while to show up. Prostate cancer is a condition characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells around and in the prostate gland. This is the organ responsible for producing prostate fluid, which makes part (70%) of semen produced in the testes.  This type of cancer affects cells responsible for generating the prostate fluid- hence known as adenocarcinomas.

While most types of prostate cancer are slow-growing, some types grow and spread at a faster rate, hence more dangerous.  Slow-Growing cancer does not, however, pose a significant risk to most men.  Many older men, and even some younger ones, who died of other causes, also had slow-growing prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Most of these men had no idea they had prostate cancer in the first place.

However, over time it can have a huge effect on your reproductive system. It can also alter the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level in your blood. Without treatment, this cancer can spread and become fatal.

So why do some men develop prostate cancer?

What are the Causes of and Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer?

There can be several different things that cause prostate cancer. Changes to your DNA as you age can increase your likelihood of developing it. This is why prostate cancer is especially common in men over the age of 60. 

Your diet can also affect your likelihood of developing prostate cancer. Fatty foods stimulate hormones that support the growth of prostate cancer. So, watching what you eat can help protect your prostate. 

You may also have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer if you: 

  • Have a family history of it
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Are a smoker
  • Have a high calcium intake 
  • Are of black ethnic origins
  • Are over the age of 50

Even if you do not fall into any of these categories, it is a good idea to check your prostate regularly, especially as you get older.

Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

It is not always possible to spot cancer affecting your prostate gland immediately. However, as prostate cancer develops, you will start to notice more symptoms. These can include: 

  • Having to urinate more frequently
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder or weak urine flow
  • The urge to urinate more frequently at night
  • Blood in your urine
  • Erectile dysfunction (that is newly onset)
  • Pain when urinating
  • Discomfort when sitting

If your cancer has spread, you may also experience pain across your back, hips, or thighs. You may also lose a lot of weight and find that you're more tired than usual.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to get a prostate cancer screening as soon as possible. There are several ways to do this.

PSA Lab Test for Prostate Cancer

A PSA test is a type of blood test that checks the amount of PSA in your blood. PSA, or Prostate-Specific Antigen, is a type of protein that your prostate gland produces. Even when you are healthy, some PSA leaks into your bloodstream. 

  • Total Prostate Specific Antigen – The tests are done to detect and monitor prostate cancer.  The health expert must evaluate tests based on the volume of the patient’s prostate and PSA levels in the blood.
  • Free PSA – There are two types of PSA in the blood: free PSA (fPSA), which isn’t bound, and complexed PSA (cPSA), which is linked to other proteins. Health experts test for fPSA to determine the need for biopsy to be done. The biopsy can only be done when the total PSA is slightly elevated. Most men with BPH will have higher levels of fPSA, while those with prostate cancer will have relatively lower amounts of the same. Low levels of fPSA increase the risk of cancer despite normal PSA levels.

A raised PSA result can be a useful way of detecting prostate cancer. This is a quick way to spot early-stage prostate cancer. However, if your PSA is raised, it is also a good idea to get some further prostate cancer tests. 

Lab tests come in handy in detecting prostate cancer, and ruling out health conditions/ailments that may make the situation worse. The tests can also be used to monitor and determine the effectiveness of the current mode of treatment.

A digital rectal examination (DRE) helps your doctor check your prostate. Because your prostate cannot be seen directly, your doctor inserts a gloved lubricated finger into your rectum to feel your prostate and check for enlargement.

If you or your doctor is concerned about your prostate, your doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy. This involves taking a small tissue sample from your prostate using a thin needle. Your doctor will then examine these under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

General Lab Tests

Additional tests may be required to ascertain the likelihood of prostate cancer, and to rule out possible other conditions with similar signs and symptoms. These include:

FAQs About the Prostate Cancer Test

Getting your prostate checked for the first time can be a daunting experience. To help, here are some common questions that people have about prostate cancer testing. 

How Do You Prepare for a PSA Test? 

To prepare for a PSA test, you should: 

  • Not ejaculate or exercise heavily within the 48 hours leading up to your test
  • Ensure that you are clear of any urinary infections
  • Make sure that it has been at least 6 weeks since your last prostate biopsy

Do PSA Tests Have Any Side Effects? 

A PSA test is just like any routine blood test, so side effects are rare. If you are taking any medication you should speak to someone about this before having your blood tested. Some doctors may recommend pausing certain medication shortly before your test.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PSA Test Result Back? 

Usually, it takes between one and two weeks to get your test result back from the lab if you go through your doctor. With Ulta Lab Tests, you will receive your test results in one to two days.

What Happens If Your PSA Level is Raised? 

If you have a raised PSA level, this doesn't necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. This can also be an indication that you have an enlarged benign prostate.

However, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor as soon as possible to investigate this further. You should do this even if your PSA is normal but, you still have symptoms of prostate cancer. That way, if it is cancer, you can start your prostate cancer treatment early.

Get Your Prostate Checked Today

When it comes to getting a prostate cancer test you shouldn't wait around. Ulta Lab Tests offer extremely accurate and reliable testing so that you can make informed decisions about your health.

Our service provides secure and confidential results, and you don't need insurance or a medical referral. We are committed to providing affordable testing (which includes the doctor's order) and delivering a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Order your PSA test today, and your results will be provided to you securely and confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours. Take charge of your health and track your PSA test progress with Ulta Lab Tests today.