Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to
afflict Canadian men.
* During his lifetime, one in six men will be
diagnosed with the disease. * It is estimated that 26,500 Canadian men
will be diagnosed with the disease in his lifetime, 73 Canadian men will
be diagnosed with prostate cancer every day, 4,000 will die of
prostate cancer in 2012, 11 Canadian men will die of prostate cancer every
day. * Over 90% of prostate cancer cases are
curable if detected and treated in their earliest stages. Early detection
is key. * It is a far greater threat for those with a
family history of prostate cancer. * Men of African or Caribbean descent are at
greater risk * For more information on prostate cancer,
Early Detection of
Prostate Cancer Canada encourages men over the age of 40, as part of their
annual checkup, to initiate a conversation with their doctor about early
detection of prostate cancer, which may include PSA testing and a Digital
Discussion About PSA
The PSA test is a simple blood test that measures PSA levels in the blood. PSA
levels rise when the size of the prostate, or the number of prostate cells,
increase. It is important to note that the PSA test cannot diagnose prostate
cancer or tell you what type of cancer may or may not be present.
Although further testing and medical procedures such as blood tests may cause
anxiety among some men, research has shown that a rapid rise in PSA levels may
be a very strong sign of aggressive prostate cancer. Regular testing may
result in early detection of the disease, at a stage when there are more
options for treatment and a better chance of survival.
When deciding on whether to take the test, you should talk to your doctor and
consider all aspects of the testing process.
What is a PSA Number?
A PSA number shows the amount of prostate specific antigen (in nanograms) per
millilitre of blood. Research has shown that normal PSA numbers vary by age
and race so it is important to take these factors into account when looking at
your PSA number. For example, because PSA levels rise naturally with age, a
normal PSA number at age 40 is different from a normal PSA number at age 70.
Other PSA Measurements
There are other measurements that can be taken with the PSA blood test in
order to improve its accuracy as an indicator of prostate cancer.
PSA doubling time: The time it takes for your PSA number to
double. PSA doubling time can give an idea about whether you have cancer and
whether this cancer is likely to be aggressive or to have spread.
Percentage or “ratio” of free to total PSA: A ratio comparing
the amount of free PSA to the total amount of PSA in the blood. Free PSA
travels alone in the blood; it is not bound to any other blood proteins. Free
PSA comes from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), not prostate cancer. The
higher the percentage of free PSA, the less likely it is that prostate cancer
is present. Readings of greater than 25 percent free PSA indicate that much of
the elevated PSA is caused by BPH. A reading of less than 10 percent suggests
that you are more likely to have prostate cancer.
PSA density: A ratio comparing the size of your prostate with
your PSA number. Usually, a PSA density under 0.07 is considered normal. A
high PSA density means there is more PSA being produced by a relatively small
prostate and thus cancer is more likely. Your urologist often will use this
information to decide whether to go ahead with a biopsy or not.