For the past two years, COVID-19 has affected every part of our lives – from work to dating to TikTok. (If you also went down the TikTok rabbit hole, raise your hand!)
Although the worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us, fall is right around the corner and experts are warning of a new wave that could infect 100 million people.1 For patients with prostate cancer or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), we now know that COVID-19 can also affect prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein created by tissue in the prostate.
You can learn more about PSA here.
COVID-19 & the Prostate: What’s the Link?
COVID-19 was originally considered a respiratory disease. Now, it is widely understood to affect many areas in the body – including the prostate.
In a prospective study of men with BPH who’d been diagnosed with COVID-19, researchers found significant increases in PSA levels during the active period of the disease.2
Theories about Elevated PSA
There are a few possible ways that the SARS-COV-2 virus could damage tissue in the prostate, causing PSA levels to rise.
The virus is known to down-regulate an enzyme called ACE-2, which causes an increase in inflammation.3 It also leads to a prothrombotic state, or one where patients are at an increased risk of blood clots forming within a blood vessel.
One case report described prostatic infarction, a necrosis (cell death) of the prostate gland due to lack of blood supply, in a patient with BPH. This, too, would increase PSA.4
Is Elevated PSA COVID or Cancer?
PSA is just one screening tool for cancer or to monitor for recurrences after cancer treatment. We need to interpret results in the context of past results, as well as other clinical information.
Multiparametric MRI (mpMRI) can provide a detailed look at your prostate to see if there is a lesion that could explain the rising PSA. If a suspicious lesion is found, an MRI-guided prostate biopsy can precisely sample that area.
Let Us Help
At the Prostate Laser Center powered by HALO Diagnostics, we use a top-of-the-line 3T MRI to perform biopsies and focal ablations of the prostate for BPH and prostate cancer. It’s more important now than ever before to have an experienced team of experts on your side. We’re here to help you on your prostate health journey.
Contact us today by calling (844) MENS-MRI or request a consultation online.
1Abutaleb, Y. & Achenbach, J. (2022). Coronavirus wave this fall could infect 100 million, administration warns. Washington Post. Published online May 6, 2022.
2Cinislioglu, A.E., et al. (2022). Variation of serum PSA levels in COVID-19 infected male patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): A prospective cohort study. Urology, 159. 16-21.
3Chai, X., Hu L., Zhang Y., et al. (2020). Specific ACE2 expression in cholangiocytes may cause liver damage after 2019-nCoV infection. bioRxiv. Published online February, 4, 2020.
4Duarte, S.A.C., Pereira, J.G., Iscaife, A., et al. (2020). Is prostate infarction and acute urinary retention a possible complication of severe COVID-19 infection? Pathology, 52. 818-821.