The PSA Test

Prostate Cancer UK

The PSA test is a blood test that can help diagnose prostate problems, including prostate cancer.

What is the PSA test?

The PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. It’s normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, and the amount rises slightly as you get older and your prostate gets bigger. A raised PSA level may suggest you have a problem with your prostate, but not necessarily cancer.

You can have a PSA test at your GP surgery. You will need to discuss it with your GP first. At some GP surgeries you can discuss the test with a practice nurse, and they can do a test if you decide you want one.

Family history and genetics

Your family history is information about any health problems that have affected your family. Families have many common factors, such as their genes, environment and lifestyle. Together, these factors can help suggest if you are more likely to get some health conditions.

Inside every cell in our body is a set of instructions called genes. These are passed down (inherited) from our parents. Genes control how the body grows, works and what it looks like. If something goes wrong with one or more genes (known as a gene fault or mutation), it can sometimes cause cancer.

Is prostate cancer hereditary?

If people in your family have prostate cancer or breast cancer, it might increase your own risk of getting prostate cancer. This is because you may have inherited the same faulty genes.

My father had prostate cancer. What are my risks?

You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer.

Your chance of getting prostate cancer may be even greater if your father or brother was under 60 when he was diagnosed, or if you have more than one close relative (father or brother) with prostate cancer.

Your risk of getting prostate cancer may also be higher if your mother or sister has had breast cancer.

Although prostate cancer can run in families, having a family history doesn’t mean you will get it. But it's important to speak to your GP if you have any relatives with prostate cancer or breast cancer, as your risk of hereditary prostate cancer may be higher.

Do you have a family history of prostate cancer?

If you're over 45 and your father or brother has had prostate cancer, you may want to talk to your GP. Our Specialist Nurses can also help you understand your hereditary risk of prostate cancer.

Black men

Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. We don’t know why, but it might be linked to genes. In the UK, about 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.*

If you have mixed black ethnicity, you are likely to be at higher risk of prostate cancer than a white man. But we don’t know your exact risk because we don’t have enough information on prostate cancer in men with mixed black ethnicity. And we don’t know whether it makes a difference if it’s your mother or father who is black.

Can prostate cancer be prevented?

No one knows how to prevent prostate cancer, but a healthy lifestyle may be important.

Body weight

Being overweight may increase your risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer that’s aggressive (more likely to spread) or advanced (cancer that has spread outside the prostate). Eating healthily and keeping active can help you stay a healthy weight.

For more information - click here.

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