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What do elevated PSA test numbers mean?

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Quick Answer

Elevated PSA, or prostate specific antigen levels, indicate potential prostate cancer or a noncancerous condition, such as prostatitis or an enlarged prostate, notes WebMD. The test involves drawing blood from the patient, usually from the arm, and having the results analyzed in a lab.

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Full Answer

A PSA test is a medical procedure that screens for prostate cancer and measures the amount of PSA in the blood, notes Mayo Clinic. Although the test can detect high levels of PSA that may indicate the presence of prostate cancer, many noncancerous conditions can cause increased PSA levels.

The PSA test does not diagnose the exact condition of the prostate, nor does it provide the information necessary to the physician to make a cancer diagnosis, explains Mayo Clinic. Therefore, it is only one tool doctors use for prostate cancer screening. In cases where abnormal results occur, the treating physician may order a biopsy and remove a sample of tissue for lab examination. The doctor may also order another test to confirm the original results or continue with future PSA tests at regular intervals to note changes over time, according to National Cancer Institute. As of 2015, prostate cancer is the second-most-common cause of cancer-related death among males, and early detection is important in getting immediate treatment, explains Mayo Clinic.

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