What will the test results tell me?
A PSA test alone can’t tell you whether you have prostate cancer, because other things can affect your PSA level. It’s normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, and the amount rises as you get older. The prostate gland gets bigger with age, and may produce more PSA.
What is a 'normal' PSA level and what is high?
The following figures are a very rough guide to ‘normal’ PSA levels, depending on your age.
A ‘normal’ PSA level is less than:
- 3 ng/ml for men aged 50-59
- 4 ng/ml for men aged 60-69
- 5 ng/ml for men aged 70 and over.
This is just a guide – different GP surgeries might use slightly different figures. For example, in some places, a PSA level of less than 7 ng/ml might be seen as normal for men aged 70-75. Speak to your GP about what your results mean.
A high PSA level for your age can be a sign of prostate cancer. But it can also be a sign of other prostate problems such as an enlarged prostate or prostatitis.
If your test results are normal for your age, then you may not need any further tests. Or you may need another PSA test in the future.
A very high PSA level (for example in the hundreds or thousands) normally means that a man has prostate cancer. But if your PSA level is only slightly high for your age, then you will need other tests to help find out if there is a problem.
What happens next?
Your GP will look at several factors together to help you agree on the next step. These include:
- the results of your PSA test
- the results of a DRE
- whether you are at higher risk of prostate cancer
- any other health problems or things that may have affected the results
- whether you’ve had a prostate biopsy in the past.
Your GP should discuss all this with you. They may also do another PSA test, especially if your PSA is only slightly raised.
Your GP will make an appointment for you to see a specialist at the hospital if they think you need more tests to work out whether you have a prostate problem or prostate cancer. You can also ask your GP to refer you to a specialist.