PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) tests have long been the standard test for determining BPH (enlarged prostate), Prostatitis (infection of the prostate) and prostate cancer. There are two events that are watched for.
The event that far too many people experience is when they are not being tested on at least an annual basis and when they do get tested, their PSA is substantially above normal. If a PSA is not changing, an acceptable normal level would be between 0 and 4. In the scenario above, finding a PSA that has always been in the normal range suddently out of the normal range would require further immediate testing to determine the cause.
The other event has to do with what is called PSA velocity. This is normally seen when the PSA is still within the normal range, but begins to increase on a regular basis. Generally if your PSA starts to increase a doctor will encourage more frequent PSA tests. Monitoring in this manner will allow you to avoid unnecessary invasive testing such as needle biopsies. Often, with BPH or prostatitis, the PSA will rise and level off, or rise and fall.
If a PSA continues to steadily rise, even if it is still within the normal range it is often recommended to check for cancer through a biopsy. The good news in those cases where the PSA velocity is slow is that if it is determined that cancer is present, it is generally an early stage, low grade cancer. When diagnosed at this level, prostate cancer has more treatment options and has a better overall prognosis.
When prostate cancer becomes more dangerous is when regular testing is not done and the cancer is not found until it has spread.
From a life insurance standpoint prostate cancer is ultimately insurable at very good rates as long as the cancer is diagnosed at early stages and low grades, and treatment is successful. There is generally a waiting period after the treatment just to ensure that the planned outcome is on track, but, if your PSA has returned to the appropriate level within a year post treatment, you should review your situation with an independent life insurance agent.
Bottom line. Follow the guidelines for testing. Learn more about prostate cancer and life insurance underwriting at our new website. If you have a family history of prostate cancer you should begin annual testing no later than age 40 and earlier certainly makes sense if there are multiple incidences in your family. Any man over age 50 should have annual reviews of their PSA and yes guys, a digital exam.