An Elevated PSA Doesn’t Always Mean Prostate Cancer!

Many men over 50 years old get a screening blood test to check for prostate cancer called the PSA, or Prostate Specific Antigen.  The normal range for this test is 0 to 4.  When the number is above 4, your doctor may be concerned that a cancer is present and order additional examinations such as a biopsy.  This can be an invasive procedure since it requires that needles be stuck into the prostate gland. 

I guess it depends on what causes a man more pain, is it the fear of cancer or is it the worry of having the biopsy procedure?  If an aggressive cancer is detected through the biopsy, then the next step may be the complete removal of the prostate gland.  I can understand why a man may be reticent to even have the PSA test performed if it may ultimately result in a prostatectomy.

There are other potential problems too with a standard prostate biopsy.  Sometimes they are negative and show no cancer present despite a rising PSA level.  In which case, they often need to be repeated.  There can be side effects from the biopsy procedure including blood in the urine and blood in the semen for weeks afterwards.  Some doctors believe that putting small holes in the prostate gland could even release cancer cells into the general blood circulation, if they are present.

The benefit of getting the PSA test performed is having the knowledge that something is wrong in the genitourinary tract.  Most doctors do not stop to consider that there are other causes of an elevated PSA beside cancer.  For example, the PSA can become elevated as the result of infection, trauma, and inflammation.  A common condition called BPH, or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy can cause an elevation of the PSA.

Some men choose to address other factors that may influence the PSA level first before going forward with a biopsy, if it is indicated.  Addressing the underlying causes of inflammation or infection could help to lower the PSA back down into the normal reference range.  There are a variety of approaches that have been used by men all over the world to reduce hypertrophy of the prostate gland.

If a cancer is truly suspected, there are other procedures and imaging studies available to gain crucial information on the size of the tumor and its exact location.  There is a special MRI study available for the prostate gland as well as a color doppler imaging procedure.  Both of these are relatively non-invasive.  If a tumor is identified, the precise images allow a guided biopsy to be done which means the needle can be inserted directly into a tumor rather than just randomly in the prostate.  There are even alternative non-surgical options available for addressing prostate cancer including HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound), Cryotherapy, and Laser Ablation.

I have seen many men lower their PSA number naturally, once cancer has been ruled out by their doctor.  The proper use of dietary and lifestyle modifications, herbal medicines, and nutritional therapies have been used successfully to improve overall health and reduce inflammation of the prostate gland, thereby lowering the PSA number.

If you are interested in learning more about what you can do to maintain prostate health, please give us a call at (434) 244-2992 to schedule a free 30-minute session to discuss your prostate issues.

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