PSA Tests: Is This the Key to Customized Care for Advanced Prostate Cancer?

A PSA test checks how much prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein made by the prostate gland, is in your blood. The prostate is a part of the male body that helps with reproduction and urinary functions. PSA is usually found in semen, which is made in the prostate, but a little bit can also be in the blood. If the PSA levels in your blood are high, it might mean you are likely to have prostate cancer or something else going on. Continue reading to get more insights on PSA and how it determine’s the treatment for prostate cancer.

Why is a PSA test done?

A PSA test is done to:

  • Look for prostate cancer early in people who do not show any signs of the disease.
  • Check for cancer in people who have symptoms of prostate cancer.
  • Plan treatment for prostate cancer.
  • Keep an eye on people with prostate cancer who are being watched closely.
  • See if treatments for prostate cancer are working.
  • Find out if prostate cancer has come back after treatment.

Doctors often do a PSA test along with a digital rectal exam (DRE) to increase the chance of finding prostate cancer early when it is easier to treat. Using both tests together is better than using just one.

Who should have a PSA test?

Deciding if you should have a PSA test depends on talking with your doctor and thinking about your chances of getting prostate cancer.

  • If you are like most people and have an average chance of getting prostate cancer, think about testing when you are 50.
  • If you are at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer, like Black men or if it runs in your family, think about testing when you are 45.
  • How often you get tested depends on your PSA levels, age, and how healthy you are.
  • When to stop testing also depends on your PSA levels, age, and health.

How is a PSA test done?

A PSA test is a simple blood test done at a lab or hospital. Many things can change your PSA levels, like having sex, riding a bike, certain medical procedures involving the prostate, or taking certain medicines or herbs. Your doctor will tell you how to get ready for your PSA test.

Some medicines can make your PSA levels lower, which can affect your results. Let your doctor know if you are taking medications for prostate problems, urinary issues, hair loss, or hormone therapy for transgender people.

What if your PSA test is positive or negative?

Your PSA levels can change for many reasons, and they tend to increase as you get older. Most labs say a normal PSA level is around 4 ng/mL, but some experts use a lower level to check for prostate cancer risk.

Having a high PSA level doesn’t always mean you have prostate cancer. It could be because of:

  • An enlarged prostate due to BPH.
  • An inflamed or infected prostate (prostatitis).
  • A urinary tract infection.
  • Recent medical tests or procedures on the prostate.
  • Having a urinary catheter.
  • Sexual activity.
  • Bike riding or a long bike ride.
  • Warmer weather.

Sometimes, after getting radiation therapy for prostate cancer, PSA levels can temporarily go up and then come back down. This is called a PSA bounce, and usually, it’s nothing to worry about unless the levels keep rising.

But it is also possible to have prostate cancer with a normal PSA level. That’s why doctors are still figuring out the best way to use the PSA test to find prostate cancer early. They’re also looking for other ways to detect prostate cancer sooner.

Is PSA Test a confirmatory test for Prostate Cancer?

If your PSA test shows high levels of PSA, it might mean you have prostate cancer, but it’s not certain. Doctors will need to do more tests to be sure.

First, they might do a biopsy, where they take a small piece of tissue from your prostate to check for cancer cells.

Then, based on the results of these tests, they willl decide on the best treatment for you. 

What Does a Personalised Treatment for Prostate Cancer Look like?

Nowadays, the era of medical care is shifting from a traditional symptom-based approach to one that is personalized for you. This could include:

1. Active Surveillance: Sometimes, if the cancer is very slow-growing or not causing problems, doctors might just keep an eye on it with regular check-ups instead of starting treatment right away.

2. Surgery: If the cancer is contained within the prostate gland and hasn’t spread, surgery to remove the prostate might be an option.

3. Radiation Therapy: This involves using high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It can be done externally (from outside the body) or internally (placing radioactive materials inside the prostate).

4. Hormone Therapy: In most cases, prostate cancer relies on a hormone called testosterone to grow. This hormone is mostly made by the testicles in men, but a small amount is also produced by the adrenal glands, located just above the kidneys.

Medications like Enzalutamide (available as Ezapro 160mg Tablet) is often prescribed as a type of hormone treatment that works by stopping testosterone from reaching the prostate cancer cells. Through this, it can help slow down the cancer’s growth and sometimes even make it smaller. Some people also call it an “androgen receptor blocker” or “inhibitor.”

5. Chemotherapy: This treatment uses medications to kill cancer cells. It’s often used when the cancer has spread beyond the prostate or if other treatments haven’t worked.

6. Immunotherapy: This treatment helps the body’s immune system fight cancer cells. It is a newer type of treatment for prostate cancer and is usually used when other treatments haven’t worked.

The Final Note

Remember, the treatment you get for prostate cancer will depend on many factors, like the stage of your cancer, your overall health, and your preferences. Your doctor will talk to you about the options and help you decide what is best for you.

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