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What is a PSA test?

Prostate specific antigen is a protein produced only by the prostate gland. It leaks into the bloodstream and can be measured via a blood test performed by your GP.

A normal PSA result is reassuring but doesn’t 100% exclude prostate disease. An abnormal PSA result (one that is above your normal age limit – see Table 1 below) may indicate disease of the prostate gland. A raised PSA result is not specific for any one disorder of the prostate, but it does suggest that a consultation with a Urologist is required and that further investigations may be required to ascertain the cause of the elevated PSA level.

Who can have a PSA test?

If you are 50 years old or over the recommendation is for a discussion with your GP about the value of having a PSA test. You are entitled to have a PSA after 50 years of age or 45 years of age with a positive family history.

What is a normal PSA?

The PSA level can be raised due to different disorders of the prostate, including an enlarged prostate (BPH or benign disease), inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) and prostate cancer.

The PSA level naturally increases with age (due to benign prostate disease) hence the age-normal values in table 1.

Table 1.

40 – 49 under 2.5 is normal

50 – 59  Under 3.5 is normal

60 – 69 Under 4.5 is normal

70 – 79 Under 6.5 is normal


PSA values can also be raised:

1) with a urinary tract infection
2) within 24 hours of sexual activity / ejaculation
3) after vigorous cycling – within 24 hours
4) within 48 hours of a urological procedure e.g. a cystoscopy

Avoid having a PSA test if any of the above apply.

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