A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test measures the level of a protein produced by the prostate gland. While all adult men have some PSA in their blood, high levels of the antigen are associated with various medical conditions.
Normal PSA values vary slightly from one race to another, and PSA levels naturally rise as a man ages.
The PSA test is primarily used to identify men who are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer than their peers. In general, the higher the PSA, the higher the risk.
Some urinary tract disorders also can elevate the PSA level. A urinary tract infection, an inflammation of the prostate gland known as prostatitis, or an enlargement of the prostate known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), can temporarily raise a man’s PSA.
Manipulation of the urinary tract, such as the insertion of a urinary catheter into the bladder to drain urine, can raise a man’s PSA level.
If a man’s PSA level is slightly elevated, his doctor might order repeated PSA tests over time to determine the man’s risk of developing prostate cancer and to identify the right time for further diagnostic testing.