Do you know what causes an elevated PSA?
Regular monitoring of PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels is an essential aspect of maintaining prostate health in men. Elevated PSA levels can be indicative of various conditions, including prostate cancer, prostatitis, or an enlarged prostate. However, the causes of an elevated PSA extend beyond just medical conditions. Lifestyle factors, medications, and even certain medical procedures can temporarily affect PSA levels.
Let’s look more into the primary causes of elevated PSA levels and explore the significance of monitoring PSA levels regularly. Additionally, we will discuss lifestyle factors that may contribute to elevated PSA levels and provide advice on steps men can take to protect their prostate health. So, let’s uncover the factors behind an elevated PSA and gain a better understanding of its implications for overall prostate well-being.
Why monitor PSA levels?
PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) screening is used to monitor prostate health in men. Regular monitoring of PSA levels can be important for several reasons. An elevated PSA level can be an indication of prostate cancer, the second most common cancer among men. Detecting prostate cancer early greatly increases the chances of successful treatment and improved outcomes.
While an elevated PSA level doesn’t always indicate cancer, it can serve as an alert for other conditions such as prostatitis or an enlarged prostate (BPH). Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help manage these conditions effectively.
Monitoring PSA levels allows for tracking any changes over time. If PSA levels are increasing significantly, it could signal the need for further investigation and a targeted biopsy. Therefore, regular monitoring of PSA levels provides a picture of what is normal for a particular man, his PSA trends and velocity of increase, offering valuable insights into prostate health and helping a man make informed decisions regarding appropriate next steps.
For cancer screening, PSA monitoring isn’t necessarily a great tool–but it is among the best screening tests available for prostate cancer, especially when used in conjunction with additional tests (such as a high-quality 3T mpMRI). What makes PSA a complicated diagnostic device is a propensity for false positives and false negatives. Simply put, as we mentioned a moment ago, there are a number of causes of elevated PSA other than cancer.
The overall efficacy of PSA screening as a diagnostic tool has been richly debated. Medical organizations have vacillated between recommending the test and opposing the test for the last few decades. More recent studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrate that PSA screening in combination with MRI prostate biopsy may be the most effective prostate cancer screening currently available.
When it comes to PSA levels themselves, screening is important because:
- If PSA is very low it’s very unlikely you have cancer
- With a normal PSA, you can still have prostate cancer
- If it’s increasing over time, that can be important even if the number isn’t very high
With this in mind, let’s examine some of the causes for elevated PSA, so that you can be better equipped to talk with your doctor.
Causes of PSA elevation
In addition to prostate cancer, a number of things can cause PSA levels to be elevated. These can include disease or medical conditions, such as:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate
- Urinary tract infections
- Prostate biopsies
PSA can also be elevated by activities that physically bump or jostle the prostate, including:
- Sports like bike riding
- Specific types of sexual activity
And some very common factors can even potentially elevate PSA, including:
- Testosterone replacement therapy
With so many things that can elevate levels, it’s easy to see why monitoring levels of PSA is only a part of prostate cancer screening.
Protecting Prostate Health with Elevated PSA Levels
For men with elevated PSA levels, it is crucial to take proactive steps to protect prostate health and seek appropriate medical guidance. Here are some recommendations to consider:
Consult with a healthcare professional:
If your PSA levels are elevated, schedule an appointment with a specialist experienced in prostate health. They can provide a comprehensive evaluation, review your medical history, and go over your options.
Consider high-quality MRI and targeted biopsy:
Discuss the possibility of undergoing a high-quality prostate MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan with a specialist. MRI scans can provide detailed images of the prostate, helping to identify areas of concern more accurately. If necessary, a targeted biopsy can be performed to obtain tissue samples from specific areas indicated by the MRI, dramatically decreasing the risk of missing a clinically significant prostate cancer.
Supplements may be helpful:
Although data is limited, certain supplements such as turmeric can improve prostate health by decreasing inflammation within the prostate. Mount Sinai explains
“There has been a great deal of research on turmeric’s anti-cancer properties, but results are still preliminary. Evidence from test tube and animal studies suggests that curcumin may help prevent or treat several types of cancers, including prostate, breast, skin, and colon cancer. Tumeric’s preventive effects may relate to its antioxidant properties, which protect cells from damage.”
Nearly every study reminds us that more evidence is needed for a clear understanding of the impact of supplements on prostate health.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle:
Engage in regular physical activity, eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and maintain a healthy weight. These lifestyle choices can contribute to overall well-being and potentially support prostate health.
Follow-up and monitoring:
Regularly monitor your PSA levels as recommended by your healthcare professional. This ensures that any changes or trends can be identified promptly, allowing for appropriate interventions or further investigations, if necessary.
Remember, an elevated PSA level does not automatically indicate the presence of prostate cancer or other prostate conditions. It serves as an important indicator that warrants further investigation and monitoring.
NOTE: The information provided on this website is general medical information and does not establish a physician-patient relationship. Please discuss your particular situation with a qualified medical professional.