woman doctor holding a vial with blood

Lab Tests That Can Detect Prostate Cancer?

The PSA test is a blood test that can promptly identify prostate cancer in men and is included as a component of the Male Hormone Lab test. Physicians conduct a diagnostic examination to detect the presence of a protein known as PSA in the circulatory system. Elevated PSA levels in males may indicate the presence of prostate cancer, however they can also be attributed to other benign illnesses.1 It is crucial to comprehend that this examination is not infallible and sometimes needs further examinations. Early detection of cancer can significantly enhance treatment outcomes, making this test highly advantageous for maintaining men’s well-being.2

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Prostate cancer, a prevalent health issue among older men, underscores the need for laboratory testing for prompt detection and treatment. The importance of these tests lies in their ability to identify potential markers of prostate cancer in its first phase, when the disease is highly treatable and prior to the onset of symptoms. This review will examine the many laboratory tests used for detecting prostate cancer, highlighting their significance in promptly and accurately identifying this disease.

woman doctor holding a vial with blood

These tests play a crucial role in raising the chances of successful treatment and enhancing patient outcomes.

Male Hormone Lab Test

The PSA test, also known as the Prostate-Specific Antigen test, is a blood test predominantly employed for the detection of prostate cancer. It identifies the existence of prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by both healthy and cancerous cells in the prostate, in the circulation of a man. Below is a comprehensive explanation of how the PSA test detects prostate cancer:

PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland, a small organ located under the bladder in males. The primary function of PSA is to convert semen into a liquid state, however only a little amount of this protein enters the bloodstream.3

The PSA test entails extracting a blood sample from the patient and dispatching it to a laboratory for analysis. The test measures the concentrations of PSA in the bloodstream, often reported as nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).

The PSA level can serve as a reliable measure of prostate health. Typically, an increased PSA level increases the likelihood of having prostate cancer. However, raised levels can also be attributed to other prostate disorders including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), as well as variables like recent ejaculation or manipulation of the prostate.

Normal Range

A PSA result below 4 ng/mL is generally regarded as within the normal range.4

Elevated PSA

Levels over this threshold may indicate a heightened susceptibility to prostate cancer. Nevertheless, there is no specific threshold that can definitively diagnose or exclude the presence of prostate cancer.

Gray Area

PSA values ranging from 4 to 10 ng/mL present a diagnostic challenge due to the approximately 25% probability of prostate cancer, however other non-cancerous conditions can also result in elevated PSA levels.5

The rate at which PSA levels increase over time, referred to as PSA velocity, might possibly be an important factor to consider.6 A sudden surge in PSA levels may suggest an elevated likelihood of prostate cancer.


The utilization of laboratory testing, namely the PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test, is crucial for the timely detection of prostate cancer. Prompt detection is crucial as it enhances the likelihood of successful treatment and enhances patient results. Although the PSA test is the main method for initial screening, it is crucial to comprehend its limitations and the necessity for further tests in particular circumstances. Timely detection with these blood tests enables swift action, perhaps milder treatments, and a higher likelihood of successful illness management. Therefore, it is crucial to have a thorough understanding of these laboratory tests and use them wisely as a fundamental part of prostate cancer treatment. This highlights the need for continuous research and advancements in diagnostic processes for this prevalent illness.

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[1] Nepal A, Sharma P, Bhattarai S, Mahajan Z, Sharma A, Sapkota A, Sharma A. Extremely Elevated Prostate-Specific Antigen in Acute Prostatitis: A Case Report. Cureus. 2023 Aug 18;15(8):e43730. doi: 10.7759/cureus.43730. PMID: 37727194; PMCID: PMC10505831.

[2] Crosby D, Bhatia S, Brindle KM, Coussens LM, Dive C, Emberton M, Esener S, Fitzgerald RC, Gambhir SS, Kuhn P, Rebbeck TR, Balasubramanian S. Early detection of cancer. Science. 2022 Mar 18;375(6586):eaay9040. doi: 10.1126/science.aay9040. Epub 2022 Mar 18. PMID: 35298272.

[3] Anamthathmakula P, Winuthayanon W. Mechanism of semen liquefaction and its potential for a novel non-hormonal contraception†. Biol Reprod. 2020 Aug 4;103(2):411-426. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioaa075. PMID: 32529252; PMCID: PMC7523691.

[4] Liu X, Wang J, Zhang SX, Lin Q. Reference Ranges of Age-Related Prostate-Specific Antigen in Men without Cancer from Beijing Area. Iran J Public Health. 2013 Nov;42(11):1216-22. PMID: 26171333; PMCID: PMC4499062.

[5] Shtricker A, Shefi S, Ringel A, Gillon G. PSA levels of 4.0 - 10 ng/mL and negative digital rectal examination. Antibiotic therapy versus immediate prostate biopsy. Int Braz J Urol. 2009 Sep-Oct;35(5):551-5; discussion 555-8. doi: 10.1590/s1677-55382009000500006. PMID: 19860933.

[6] Vickers AJ, Brewster SF. PSA Velocity and Doubling Time in Diagnosis and Prognosis of Prostate Cancer. Br J Med Surg Urol. 2012 Jul 1;5(4):162-168. doi: 10.1016/j.bjmsu.2011.08.006. PMID: 22712027; PMCID: PMC3375697.

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