Elevated PSA

Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists

Urologists located in Bellingham, WA

Receiving regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing can help identify your risks of prostate cancer before symptoms arise. But having elevated PSA doesn’t guarantee you have prostate cancer. If your PSA screening shows elevated numbers, the skilled urologists at Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists in Bellingham, Washington, can help you understand what they mean and advise you on how to proceed. To schedule PSA testing, call Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists or schedule an appointment online today.

Elevated PSA

What is prostate-specific antigen testing?

This type of test helps measure PSA in your blood to look for signs of prostate cancer.

The prostate gland makes the seminal fluid that transports and nourishes his sperm. This gland surrounds the urethra beneath the bladder and also produces PSA. Most of your PSA is in your semen, but you can also find trace amounts in your blood as well.

Most healthy men without prostate cancer typically have a PSA level below 4 nanograms per milliliter of blood. If your PSA level rises, that can be a sign that you’re at higher risk of prostate cancer.


What causes elevated PSA levels?

If you learn that you have a higher than normal PSA levels, it doesn’t guarantee that you have prostate cancer. Your PSA level in your blood can be affected because of several factors, including:

  • Getting older
  • Experiencing an inflamed or infected prostate, or prostatitis
  • Having an enlarged prostate
  • Undergoing certain urologic procedures

You can also have an elevated PSA level if you’ve ejaculated close to taking your test. For accurate results, it’s best to avoid ejaculation 3 days leading up to your PSA screening. There’s also evidence that you can experience a temporary increase in your PSA level from riding a bicycle.

Just like you can have a PSA level that’s higher than normal, it’s also possible to have results that are lower. You might experience a low PSA level if you’re taking certain medications or are considerably overweight.


What happens if my PSA level is high?

If your PSA level is high, it isn’t necessarily cause for concern because these numbers can fluctuate. If your results are high after your first test, your urologist may suggest another screening in 1-2 months. They might also recommend a digital rectal exam (DRE) to check your prostate for physical abnormalities.

Depending on your PSA level and DRE, your urologist may suggest additional tests to look for the source of what’s causing your elevated numbers, such as:

  • Urine tests to check for infection
  • Imaging tests, like X-rays, transrectal ultrasound, or cystoscopy, to look for abnormalities
  • Prostate biopsy to check for signs of disease

Only one-quarter of men who have elevated PSA levels and get a prostate biopsy receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Call Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists or schedule an appointment online today.