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What do you know about prostate cancer?

05 January 2018

What is a PSA test?

PSA stands for prostate specific antigen which we measure in a blood test. An elevated reading (higher than we would expect for your age) can indicate you have an increased risk of prostate cancer. But frequently, an elevated reading is due to something other than cancer, most commonly that your prostate is enlarged and is therefore producing higher levels of antigen.

Mr Doherty explains that having PSA tests from the age of 50 is useful and sensible. Tests are normally carried out every two years (if there are no concerns) and this provides a valuable “footprint” of your PSA, showing how it is behaving over time, rather than in a single snapshot.

If there is a sudden rise in your PSA, you would need to have it looked at more closely. If your PSA is slightly elevated for your age, but remains stable over time, this indicates there is unlikely to be any significant disease.

Mr Doherty recommends black males and any man with a first degree relative who has had prostate cancer before the age of 60, to have a PSA test. This is because they may have a higher genetic risk of developing prostate cancer.

What does a PSA test involve?

Traditionally, as soon as the PSA test was a little raised, the patient was referred for a TRUS biopsy. This type of biopsy is carried out under local anaesthetic taking needle samples of prostate tissue via the rectum.

As many men find this uncomfortable, if a man has elevated PSA, Mr Doherty will arrange an MRI scan.

There have been huge improvements in this technology which means the MRI (which is painless) gives a very clear picture of whether there is prostate cancer. He also uses a genetic based test called a PCA3 which gives us a very accurate measure of cancer risk. Only after these two assessments have been carried out, we can be completely sure if a biopsy needs to be performed.

The type of biopsy performed is called a template biopsy. This is carried out under a general anaesthetic because it is much more precise and accurate than a TRUS biopsy.

Can prostate cancer surgery cause incontinence and impotency?

It is true that incontinence and erectile dysfunction are the two main complications of prostate cancer surgery (called a prostatectomy).

This is due to anatomy: the nerves which control erections are bundles that lie around the prostate, so in removing the prostate, there is a risk of causing some damage to erectile function. Also, in taking out the prostate, a disruption is made to the way the bladder has previously held urine, which can cause leakage.

However, these problems are not inevitable or permanent. The skill and experience of your surgeon is a critical factor in the extent of these complications, together with the stage of your cancer.   

How much is a PSA test at Spire Parkway Hospital?

A PSA blood test is £96

How do I book a PSA test?

You will need a blood form either from your GP or your consultant.

You can call us on 0121 704 1451 to book, or enquire online by clicking here

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