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Does my PSA level determine whether I have prostate cancer?

Your provider looks at two factors related to your PSA:

  • Your PSA level: A higher level means a higher risk of prostate cancer.
  • A continuous rise: PSA levels that continue to rise after two or more tests may mean you have cancer.

But the PSA level alone doesn’t determine if you have cancer or not.

What are other risk factors for prostate cancer? You may be at higher risk for prostate cancer if you:

  • Are older than 50 years.
  • Are of African-American or Caribbean descent.
  • Have a family history of prostate cancer.
  • Have certain genetic changes that make it more likely prostate cancer will develop.

How common is prostate cancer in men with an elevated PSA level? Men can have prostate cancer even if they have a normal PSA level. But cancer is more likely with an elevated PSA level.

When PSA levels are: Below 4: 15% chance of prostate cancer.

Between 4 and 10 (the borderline range): 25% chance of prostate cancer.

Above 10: More than 50% chance of having prostate cancer.

What causes an elevated PSA level? Prostate cancer is the main cause of an elevated PSA level. But PSA levels increase with age and can reflect different prostate conditions.

Other factors that may raise a person’s PSA level include:

  • Prostate enlargement and inflammation (prostatitis).
  • Urinary tract infection.
  • Urinary catheter (tube) placement.

Your healthcare provider will also consider whether your medications affect PSA levels. For example, 5-alpha reductase blockers treat enlarged prostates and will lower PSA levels.

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