Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test

What is a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test?

A Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test is a blood test to measure the amount of the prostate-specific antigen in the blood. It is used to screen for prostate cancer and other prostate problems in men. The PSA test is the most common screening tool used for prostate cancer.

Why is it Important?

A PSA test can help detect prostate cancer in the early stages and may also detect benign prostate conditions such as inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This helps to detect potential prostate cancer before symptoms occur. It is also used to monitor patients for signs of a recurrence of prostate cancer after treatment.

When to Get Tested?

Most guidelines recommend men begin annual PSA screenings at age 50, although screening may begin at age 40 or 45 depending on risk factors and existing health conditions. Men should talk to their doctor about their individual risk factors which can help determine when a PSA screening is recommended. Men who have a family history of prostate cancer or other risk factors should talk to their doctor about beginning PSA testing earlier and more frequently.


There is no special preparation required for a PSA test. A fasting blood sample is the preferred specimen for the test, but non-fasting is also acceptable. Avoid ejaculation within 48 hours prior to the collection of the sample to avoid an inaccurate result.


The procedure is a simple blood draw and only takes a few minutes. A health care professional will draw a sample of your blood and send it to a lab for testing. The results typically take a few days to a week to become available.

Types of PSA Tests

  • Total PSA - This is a measure of the total amount of PSA in the blood.
  • PSA Velocity - This is a measure of the rate at which the total PSA is increasing or decreasing over time. It can be used to monitor prostate cancer after treatment.
  • Free PSA - Free PSA is the proportion of PSA that is not bound to proteins in the blood. It is often used to distinguish prostate cancer from other prostate conditions that may have an elevated total PSA.


A PSA test is a low-risk procedure and is generally safe. There is a small risk of bleeding, infection, bruising or hematoma at the needle site.

What to Expect after a PSA Test?

Most results from a PSA test are normal. An abnormal result can indicate a prostate problem, such as prostate cancer, and will typically require additional testing such as an ultrasound or a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Prostate cancer is best treated when it is detected early so it is important to discuss the test results with your doctor.