The PSA test measures the level of prostate specific antigen in your blood. PSA is an enzyme that is produced by a man's prostate gland.
The PSA test can help check for disease in the prostate gland. It may be done, along with a rectal exam, to screen for prostate cancer in men. It may also be done if you have trouble urinating. Because the prostate gland surrounds the tube that empties the bladder, prostate problems are a common cause of urinary problems.
The PSA test is not recommended for prostate cancer screening if you are 75 years old or older. If you are younger than 75, you should discuss the benefits and harms of the PSA test with your healthcare provider before having the test. It is not clear that the PSA test should be done routinely since, like many cancer screening tools, the test is not perfect and can give misleading results.
A small amount of blood is taken from your arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.
Having this test will take just a few minutes of your time.
Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the results of your test.
The normal range for the PSA test is less than 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) in most men. If you are over 40 years old and have a family history of prostate disease or if you are an African-American man over 40 years old, some doctors suggest that a level higher than 2.5 ng/mL should be checked with more tests. These 2 groups of men have an increased risk of prostate cancer.
The PSA level may be higher than normal if:
Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about your result and ask questions. Ask if you need to repeat your test or have other tests.