What is home PSA test?
Prostate cancer represents big problem worldwide, since it can cause death in affected men and treatment options for prostate cancer can be dangerous and really expensive. Around 15% of men around the world suffer from prostate cancer.
To treat prostate cancer effectively it is important to diagnose it early. This allows early treatment which increases the likelihood of the cancer being cured in its roots before spreading to other parts of the bodySo, you must be wondering how to test for prostate cancer? Home PSA test allows one to carry out the test whenever they are in need, comfortably in their own home. The home PSA test measures the amount of the PSA in the blood; PSA is released by prostate gland cells. What does PSA mean and what can it tell me?
Normally small amounts of prostate specific antigen or PSA exist in the blood. A significantly high PSA count may suggest that you may have prostate cancer or other issues associated with the prostate gland.
What can a PSA test tell me?
Various issues with the prostate could be associated with levels of PSA higher than normal such as(1):
- Prostate cancer
- Enlarged prostate or benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH)
Elevated PSA level is not always related to oncological prostate problem, as it could be due to some other prostate disease. So it is important that the results of a home PSA test are confirmed by other medical tests carried out under your family doctor’s guidance.
This is because although the levels of PSA could be an accurate marker for the detection of prostate cancer, they don’t always correlate with the presence of prostate cancer.
Nonetheless, if you do have a raised PSA level, then you are more likely to have prostate cancer if you meet the following criteria (1):
- Family history of prostate cancerBelong to dark-skinned population
- Older age (50 or more)
Who should make a home PSA test?
If you meet the following criteria (1):
- Prostate cancer runs in your family (genetic testing) or you have close relatives already diagnosed
- Belong to dark-skinned population
- Aged over 50
- Have a symptoms of prostate issues such as:
- Passing urine more often
- Getting up in the night to urinate often
- Difficulty passing urine or weak urine flow
- Leaking urine
- Blood in urine or semen
- Erection problems
- Discomfort or pain when sitting
- Blood or urine in semen (3)
In this case, it is recommended to carry out home PSA testMost doctors consider PSA levels of 4 ng/mL and lower as normal (2).
However, there is no normal value for PSA levels. There is only normal PSA by age which gets higher as you get older. If there you have abnormal level of PSA for your age according to PSA level chart, your doctor may refer you to further testing to clarify the reason why. Sometimes normal level for your age doesn’t mean that there is no cancer present.
It is generally considered that have PSA levels under 4ng/ml have no prostate cancer. This is not a 100% guarantee as 15% of men with levels below 4 ng/ml who had biopsy had prostate cancer. People with results between 4-10 ng/ml have 1 in 4 chance of having prostate cancer. This chance goes up to 50% with levels beyond 10 ng/ml.
Doctors may opt for biopsy if levels are higher than 4 ng/ml, but also other risk factors for prostate cancer must be taken in considering before deciding for this.
Very high PSA levels usually mean that cancer is spread through body and that immediate further diagnostic and treatment plan are needed. (4)
Home PSA test accuracy
The PSA test is not 100% accurate (1) for detection of prostate related problemsin case of (1):
- Intense exercise
- Urinary infection
- Medicine for enlarged prostate can lower PSA
- Prostate stimulation or anal sex
- Digital rectal examination
- Prostate biopsy
- Other surgical interventions
Test can show higher than normal levels of the PSA. Also, not all men with normal levels of the PSA are free from prostate related problems and not all men with higher than normal levels of the PSA have prostate related problems.
So home PSA test needs to be supported by medical tests carried out at the hospital. If you are having symptoms indicated you may have a prostate related issue These symptoms can be considered as warning signs of prostate cancer and need to taken seriously and managed accordingly.
Different home PSA tests
There are many home PSA tests that you can buy. Tests are very easy and simple to use, you have to give only a few drops of blood on the test strip, and after some time you will have the result. The results are qualitative or quantitative, showing either only presence of elevation of PSA in the blood, when a pink line on the test zone appears, or exact number. If the results are positive, it is recommended that you visit your doctor in order to get further research and diagnostic methods.
Other thing by which PSA test can be divided is the type of PSA they measure in blood. There is two types of PSA, free PSA which is not bound to proteins in blood, and total – sum of free and bound PSA. PSA free and total are two different results which you can get during testing. Free PSA is used as tool by doctors to determine whether to opt for biopsy when the results are in the ‘gray area’ between 4-10ng/ml. (5)
If free PSA is greater than 25% that means that you are more likely to have a benign condition. However, free PSA <10% is an alert that biopsy of prostate needs to be done. (5)
Home tests for prostate cancer
There is a wide range of tests that you can do from home to test for prostate cancer. If you want to find out if you have genes which are connected with higher risk for prostate cancer you may opt for BRCA or other genes testing. These are simple test requiring saliva which analyses presence of gene mutations in cells from sample. PSA DNA lookup is good starting point if you have any risk factors mentioned above.
Another type of test is prostate cancer is prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP). This parameter can be used in combination with PSA if there PSA levels are normal and can be a sign of cancer. Both of these parameters can be used in treatment management.
It is important to have in mind that when estimating results certain conditions or things you do might elevate results you get such as mentioned before. This is the case for PAP but not for BRCA or other gene markers testing.