Prostate-specific antigen is produced by prostate cells and can be released into the blood by anything that disrupts the normal architecture of the gland, explains MedicineNet. The most common cause of PSA elevation is benign prostatic hyperplasia. Other causes include prostate cancer, prostatitis, ejaculation, prostate examination and urinary retention.
PSA levels are measured as part of a screening test for prostate cancer. Normal values range between 1 and 4 nanograms per milliliter, according to MedicineNet. Values that are higher are considered to be suspicious, and the possibility of prostate cancer increases with values that are greater than 10 nanograms per milliliter.
Prostate cancer screening begins with a thorough discussion between the patient and his doctor about the risks, benefits and doubts of the procedure, explains the American Cancer Society. Men with an average risk for prostate cancer and a life expectancy of more than 10 years can begin this discussion at age 50.
Men who have a higher risk can begin the discussion when they turn 45 years old, suggests the ACS. High-risk individuals include African-American men and men who have a first-degree relative with a history of prostate cancer diagnosed before the age of 65. Patients who have more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age can discuss screening when they turn 40 years old.