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Male Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Levels and Chart

  • Published: 2015-02-14 (Revised/Updated 2018-02-26) : Author: Disabled World : Contact:
  • Synopsis: Information regarding the male PSA test performed for checking for prostate gland enlargement and/or cancer.
Prostate Gland

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the male bladder and the penis. The prostate is just in front of the rectum. The urethra runs through the center of the prostate, from the bladder to the penis, letting urine flow out of the body. The mean weight of the normal prostate in adult males is about 11 grams, usually ranging between 7 and 16 grams. It surrounds the urethra just below the urinary bladder and can be felt during a rectal exam.

Main Document

"The normal PSA serum concentration ranges between 1.0 and 4.0 ng/mL."

What is Prostate-specific Antigen?

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein made by the cells of the prostate gland.

PSA is mostly found in semen, but it is also normal to find small amounts of PSA in the blood of healthy men.

A PSA test measures the amount of PSA in the blood. Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer, a non-cancerous condition such as prostatitis, or an enlarged prostate.

How is a PSA Test Done?

Male anatomy picture showing location of the prostate gland
About This Image: Male anatomy picture showing location of the prostate gland
The prostate specific antigen test is determined by a simple blood test, and is often performed on males 50+ during regular doctor checkups.

The PSA level in your blood stream is measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).

What are normal results for a PSA test?

The normal PSA serum concentration ranges between 1.0 and 4.0 ng/mL.

However, since the prostate gland generally increases in size and produces more PSA with increasing age, it is normal to have lower levels in young men and higher levels in older men.

The PSA level also depends on ethnicity and family history of prostate cancer.

Other than the single reading, the changes in PSA numbers on an annual basis (also referred to as PSA-velocity) also play a role in decision making about the PSA marker.

The normal increase of less than 0.75 ng/mL is used to help determine whether levels may be suggestive of disease and to counsel men on management.

A man 50 to 59 years of age with an increase in PSA levels from 0.5 ng/mL to 2.5 ng/mL may cause greater concern despite the "normal" value at that time. (See table below)

PSA Levels Are NOT a Diagnostic of Cancer

The standard for identifying prostate cancer is the prostate biopsy, collecting small samples of prostate tissue and identifying abnormal cells under the microscope. The total PSA test and digital rectal exam (DRE) are used together to help determine the need for a prostate biopsy. The goal of screening is to minimize unnecessary biopsies and to detect clinically significant prostate cancer while it is still confined to the prostate.

A PSA blood test can detect prostate cancer early, but it may not save lives.

Many prostate cancers grow slowly, so a PSA test may save lives of some but cause others to have unnecessary surgeries or radiation treatment, which could cause lifelong problems such as erectile dysfunction or incontinence.

Men over 50 should talk to a doctor about their personal risk of developing prostate cancer and the benefits and risks of having a PSA test.

PSA Level Chart

Age<5050 - 5960 - 69>70(years)
Cancer No cancer Cancer No cancer Cancer No cancer Cancer No cancer
5th percentile 0.4 0.3 1.2 0.3 1.7 0.3 2.3 0.4 (ng/mL)
95th percentile 163.0 2.5 372.5 4.7 253.2 8.3 613.2 17.8

If your doctor is concerned that you might have prostate cancer based on either a PSA level or a rectal exam, a biopsy (a lab testing of a small amount of tissue from the prostate) will be the next step. This is the only way to positively identify the presence of cancer.

The "normal" reference ranges for prostate-specific antigen increase with age, as do the usual ranges in cancer.

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1 : Prostate MRI Reveals More Treatable Cancers and Reduces Overdiagnosis : European Association of Urology.
2 : A More Complete Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Aggressive Prostate Cancer : Elsevier.
3 : Digital Rectal Exam Vs. PSA Test For Prostate Cancer : Dr. David Samadi Prostate Cancer Center.
4 : First Prostate Cancer Patients Treated with HIFU Technology : HIFU Prostate Services, LLC.
5 : Male Prostate Exam: PSA, DRE and PVR Tests : Dr. David Samadi.
From our Prostate Cancer section - Full List (35 Items)

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