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What are the causes of high PSA numbers?

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Quick Answer

Elevated PSA levels can be caused by prostate cancer, an enlarged prostate, inflammation of the prostate, a urinary tract infection, advanced age and ejaculation, explains Everyday Health. Inserting a catheter into the bladder, a prostate or bladder exam, and a digital rectal exam also elevate PSA levels.

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Full Answer

The second-leading cause of cancer among men is prostate cancer, but the PSA test is unable to determine the difference between various causes of increased PSA levels, reports Everyday Health. The most common prostate problem in men over 50 years of age is an enlarged prostate. A digital rectal exam is used to differentiate between an enlarged prostate and cancer. Treatment of an enlarged prostate is not necessary unless frequent or painful urination occurs.

Inflammation of the prostate, or prostatitis, is more common in men younger than 50, states Everyday Health. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial prostatitis, but nonbacterial prostatitis lasts longer, and treatment is more difficult. Urinary tract infections are also treated with antibiotics and can be caused by an enlarged prostate.

As men age, PSA levels can naturally rise without evidence of a medical condition, explains Everyday Health. As of 2015, lower PSA test scores in older men indicate a decreased risk of dying from prostate cancer.

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