July 2011


Prostate specific antigen

Volume 40, No.7, July 2011 Pages 497-500

Tom Brett

This article forms part of our ‘Tests and results’ series for 2011 which aims to provide information about common tests that general practitioners order regularly. It considers areas such as indications, what to tell the patient, what the test can and cannot tell you, and interpretation of results.

What is the prostate specific antigen test?

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a glycoprotein produced solely by the prostate. Its function is to liquefy semen. Small amounts leak into the bloodstream, where it can be measured. Prostate specific antigen is tissue-specific but not cancer-specific. Elevated levels can occur in men with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), prostatitis, urinary tract infection or prostatic infarction. Elevation also may occur after prostate biopsy, aggressive digital rectal examination (DRE), ejaculation, bicycle riding and physical exercise.

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