What is a high PSA count?

Written by ann mountz
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A PSA test screens for cancer of the prostate---a small gland located just under a man's bladder---which produces one component of semen. If your doctor says your PSA count is high, you might be worried about prostate cancer, but the American Cancer Society (ACS) says a high count does not automatically mean cancer.

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Definition

A PSA count is determined by a blood test for prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced only by the prostate gland.

Results

Healthy men typically have a PSA count below 4 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml). Physicians consider anything above that to be a high PSA count.

Odds

A PSA count between 4 and 10 ng/ml gives you a 25 per cent chance of prostate cancer, according to the ACS. If your PSA count is above 10, you odds are above 50 per cent. It is possible, however, to have a PSA count below 4 ng/ml and have prostate cancer.

Other explanations

Other reasons for a high PSA count, reports the ACS, include age, prostate infection and benign prostatic hyperplasia---a swollen prostate.

Further Testing

If your PSA count is high, you doctor will likely recommend a biopsy---the removal of small tissue samples to be examined in a lab.

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