The PSA test may save your life

Actor Ben Stiller revealed this week that, in 2014, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer through a routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Three months later, the tumor was removed surgically. Stiller has been cancer-free since. This has sparked a national conversation about the importance of PSA testing in men.Here’s what you need to know about the PSA test.The Prostate and Prostate Cancer

First, the basics: The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system. It’s located slightly below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It’s small, about the size of a walnut, and surrounds part of the urethra – the tube that empties urine from the bladder. Its main job is to produce part of the fluid released at the time of ejaculation.When a man develops prostate cancer, the cells of the prostate begin to grow out of control. These cancer cells can eventually metastasize, which means they move to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes and bones.While prostate cancer can affect any man, it’s rare among men under the age of 40. Risk factors include being over 50, being black, having a family history of prostate cancer, and consuming a diet high in fat and alcohol.Prostate cancer is the second deadliest cancer among men. Approximately one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. In 2016, there will be more than 180,000 new cases and more than 26,000 men will die from the disease.The PSA Test

The PSA test is a blood test used to screen for prostate cancer. PSA stands for “prostate-specific antigen,” which is a protein produced both by normal and cancerous cells in the prostate. The test measures your levels of PSA, which can fluctuate normally with age and other factors. Along with a digital rectal exam to look for abnormal lumps and bumps, the PSA test is the best tool for early identification of prostate cancer.What If Your Test Results Are High?

Fear not! Elevated PSA levels can be caused by many things, from swelling of the prostate gland, an infection, recent ejaculation, or other benign reasons. Your doctor will rule out all of these potential causes and order another PSA test before taking the next step.Your Next Steps

If your PSA test results are higher than normal and other potential causes have been eliminated, your doctor may order a biopsy of your prostate. A biopsy is a relatively easy procedure that can be completed in your doctor’s office, and you can go home the same day. Roughly three out of four men who receive a biopsy are found to be cancer-free.Since some men experience complications such as infections from their biopsies, you and your doctor may decide to take a “watchful waiting” approach before deciding if one is necessary. With watchful waiting, you’ll receive several PSA tests over time to measure fluctuations in your test results.Your doctor can help you determine the best treatment options for you. Knowing is always better than not knowing, so ask your doctor today if a PSA test is right for you.

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About Crozer Keystone Staff

Crozer-Keystone Health System’s physicians, specialists and advanced practitioners are committed to improving the health of our community through patient-centered, quality care across a full continuum of health services. Crozer Brinton Lake is Crozer-Keystone’s comprehensive outpatient care facility in western Delaware County, offering primary care, specialty services, outpatient surgery and advanced cancer treatment. Contact us: 300 Evergreen Drive, Glen Mills, PA 19342 http://www.crozerkeystone.org/Brinton-Lake 1-855-254-7425

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