Blog Post

What is PSA?


PSA is one of three major factors that are considered when evaluating a man’s particular case of prostate cancer. PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. The word ‘specific’ means that this enzyme is produced only by prostate cells—whether normal prostate cells or prostate cancer cells. No other cells (lung, intestine, liver, etc.) make PSA. The purpose of PSA is to keep semen (the white substance ejaculated during sexual intercourse) liquefied. PSA is also leaked into the bloodstream by normal prostate cells and can be measured by a simple blood test.

PSA and Cancer Identification

A prostate cancer cell typically makes a lot more PSA than a normal prostate cell. Usually, but not always, the amount of PSA you have indicates how much cancer you have. Benign (not cancerous conditions) like benign prostate hypertrophy (enlarged prostate) can also increase your PSA. However, the amount of PSA does not always show how much cancer you have. When prostate cancer is found in a biopsy, the average PSA level is 7.4 ng/ml. Sixty-two percent of men with prostate cancer have a PSA between 4.1 and 10, although it can also be lower or higher than these levels.

Importance of PSA Testing

The standard recommendation for routinely checking a man’s PSA has changed due to the finding that most men with an elevated PSA do not have prostate cancer. Thus, in hindsight, most prostate biopsies don’t show cancer. Also, many men have a very slow-growing disease that does not need treatment quite yet. Due to these reasons, questions have arisen about the cost-effective value of the PSA test as a screening tool for prostate cancer. While these may seem to be strong reasons not to undergo a PSA test, it remains a fact that a lot less men die of cancer today than before the PSA test. The PSA test may not be perfect, but it gives men the best chance of detecting prostate cancer early and the more time to seek appropriate management before giving the cancer a chance to spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, Medicare currently still provides coverage for an annual PSA test for all Medicare-eligible men 50 years of age and older, while many private insurers also continue to cover PSA screening.

Finding a Cure

Probably the most important piece of information a man should know about prostate cancer is that a zero PSA (<0.2) reading 15 years after any treatment is what is commonly considered the gold standard to show cure, and is the key to deciding what treatment to undergo. Many doctors talk about treatment, but ignore discussing how well that treatment cures. But isn’t the goal to be cured? There are at least 12 different treatments for prostate cancer and they vary greatly in how well they can cure. Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia physicians specialize in curing prostate cancer and can give men their own Individual Cure Rate (ICR), which is the percentage that represents the likelihood of completely curing a man’s unique prostate cancer. Based on years of data (made up of millions of data points) collected from more than 16,000 men before, during and after treatment, ProstRcision’s database is unmatched by any other cancer treatment center in America.

We encourage men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer to contact us to learn more about their diagnosis. We can also offer to provide a man with his Individual Cure Rate using our robust treatment database.