What Causes Elevated PSA?

Sarah Sullins

An elevated PSA level may indicate the presence of prostate cancer, but there are several other, non-cancerous, reasons for a high reading of this particular blood test. High levels may indicate prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). They may also be caused by a recent prostate biopsy, bicycle riding, a recent digital rectal exam, or a recent ejaculation.

Doctors will often draw blood from a patient to test for elevated PSA before performing biopsy or rectal exams.
Doctors will often draw blood from a patient to test for elevated PSA before performing biopsy or rectal exams.

A PSA blood test is a medical exam that is used to help determine if a man is suffering from prostate cancer or any other prostate problems. This test is also used by doctors during prostate cancer treatment to determine whether or not the treatment that is being used is working properly. An elevated PSA level can be caused by anything that has irritated the prostate, although some irritations will only cause a temporary increase in PSA levels.

A man's prostate can be found around the urethra.
A man's prostate can be found around the urethra.

Prostatitis occurs when an infection causes the prostate to become inflamed. Many times this condition will not last for a long time, but may reoccur. Some men will have long-term or chronic prostatitis. Treatment for this condition varies, depending on the initial cause. Bacterial infections that cause this condition will generally be taken care of with antibiotics that are prescribed by a doctor.

High levels of PSA may indicate an enlarged prostate.
High levels of PSA may indicate an enlarged prostate.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition that is very common in older men. With this problem, the prostate becomes enlarged. This condition is non-cancerous and will not affect the rest of a man’s body.

Both a prostate biopsy and a digital rectal exam can cause a elevated PSA level. Many times, doctors will draw blood for the test before doing the biopsy or rectal exam. This ensures that a correct reading is done. If the PSA blood test is done after a biopsy, it will usually be after several weeks.

There are some studies that indicate that riding a bicycle can cause a elevated PSA level in men. Recent ejaculations can also create a temporarily high count. Due to this, most doctors recommend that a man does not ride a bike or take part in any sexual activity for at least two days before the test takes place.

If an elevated PSA level is found, another test is generally scheduled for a couple of weeks later. This will help to rule out any temporary issues that could have elevated the count, and also to rule out any lab errors. If the test comes back with high levels again, a biopsy is usually done to determine if cancer is present in the prostate.

High PSA levels may be a sign of early stage prostate cancer.
High PSA levels may be a sign of early stage prostate cancer.

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