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What Are the Different Types of PSA Tests?

Updated on July 7, 2013

PSA is a proteine produced by the prostate

The PSA, short for Prostate Specific Antigen, is the protein that is produced by the prostate gland; its purpose is to keep the seminal due in a liquid state. When performing normally, the gland will not produce extra antibodies, which will eventually flood the blood stream.

List of PSA tests

  • Bloodtest
  • Digital rectal examination
  • PSA biopsy test
  • Transperineal Template Biopsy
  • PSA tracking test
  • Transrectal Ultrasound Test

There Are Many Different Types of PSA tests

There are different types of PSA tests to determine if there is a problem, but the most simple is an early detection test, performed by a simple blood test. If there is any reason to suspect trouble with the prostate, blood is drawn and examined. To determine the amount of prostate specific antigens in the bloodstream, the medical technician will measure how many antibodies are in the bloodstream (the antibodies attach themselves to the PSA molecules). The more antibodies in the bloodstream, the greater the chance that cancer is present, possibly in an advanced stage.

A digital rectal examination

A digital rectal examination may also be performed to determine if there is a problem with the prostate. This exam is performed by the doctor inserting a finger into the rectum, to feel the prostate, determining if it is hard, enlarged, lumpy, or otherwise abnormal


The PSA biopsy test

The PSA biopsy test involves using a thin needle to remove a small sample of tissue from the prostate gland. A technician may examine the sample for cancer cells. Using an electron microscope, if there is a problem with the prostate, cancer cells will be visually detected.

A transperineal template biopsy

A transperineal template biopsy is a PSA test performed only after a traditional biopsy returns negative results, but there is still reason to believe that cancer may be present, and has been found credible to discover cancer, when missed by other methods. This involves the medical professional placing a template in which holes are cut out, spaced five millimeters apart. The template is placed on the skin behind the perineum. Using the transrectal ultrasound for guidance, the biopsy needle is used to take samples from the prostate, to be examined using an electron microscope.

PSA tracking test

Another type of PSA test is a tracking test. Usually completed over a one or two year period, this test tracks and measures how much and how fast the amount of PSA increases in the bloodstream. Typically, if the rate increases at least 3/4th of 1% in a one year period, it is assumed that cancer is present.

Transrectal Ultrasound Test

One of the most recent PSA tests developed is a Transrectal Ultrasound Test. Using sound waves to generate an image of the prostate, doctors can view, save, e-mail, or print out an image to be examined. While medical professionals have divided opinions on the validity of this test (because the image does not distinguish between cancer cells and normal cells), it does provide an image to determine if the prostate is enlarged or lumpy. Additionally, this ultrasound procedure is also used during a biopsy, guiding the doctor where to insert the needle.

Consult Medical Professionals

While these are the most commonly used methods for PSA testing, newer technologies are always being discovered. Check with your medical professional to determine if newer, better testing is available.


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