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What does a PSA blood test mean?

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A PSA blood test is commonly used to predict, diagnose and monitor the presence of prostrate cancer in men. "PSA" stands for "prostrate-specific antigen," a protein produced exclusively by the male prostrate gland. PSA blood tests measure levels of this protein in the bloodstream, according to HealthCentral.

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Blood tests measuring PSA level can increase the chance of finding prostate cancer when elevated levels of PSA are detected early, reports MedlinePlus. In addition to assisting in the detection of the presence of cancer, PSA levels are currently used as a tumor marker as well as to monitor both disease progression and the presence or lack of recurrent disease in patients who have previously undergone treatment for prostate cancer, states HealthCentral.

An elevation in the PSA level does not necessarily mean that a man definitely has prostate cancer. There are many conditions, both benign and malignant, that can result in an elevation of the PSA, reports HealthCentral. In any case, the PSA test result alone cannot diagnose prostate cancer. Only a prostate biopsy can diagnose this cancer, according to MedlinePlus.

In many instances, conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate; infections or inflammatory conditions of the prostate; urinary tract infections; and prostatic stones cause an increase in PSA levels, which is not necessarily indicative of cancer. PSA levels often rise with increasing age and prostate size, and engaging in sexual activity just prior to undergoing a PSA test may also be associated with an elevation of PSA levels, states HealthCentral.

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