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Positives and Negatives of a PSA Test in Men

A PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test is a blood test used to screen for prostate cancer in men. The test measures the level of PSA in the blood, with higher levels potentially indicating the presence of cancer.

Positive aspects of the PSA test include:

  • It is a non-invasive test that can help detect prostate cancer early, when it is more likely to be treatable.

  • It can be used to monitor the progression of prostate cancer in men who have already been diagnosed with the disease.

Negative aspects of the PSA test include:

  • False positives are common, meaning that the test can indicate cancer is present when it actually isn't.

  • Some prostate cancer are low grade and slow growing, not requiring treatment and the harms of over diagnosis and overtreatment.

  • The test can also lead to unnecessary biopsies, which can cause discomfort and complications.

  • The test has a high rate of false negatives, meaning that cancer may be present but not detected by the test.

Overall, the decision to have a PSA test should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider who can discuss the potential benefits and risks, and take into account factors such as a man's age, family history of prostate cancer, and overall health.

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