Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)
How To Prepare
Before you have a prostate-specific
antigen (PSA), tell your doctor if you have had a:
- Test to look at your bladder (cystoscopy) in the past several
- Prostate needle biopsy or prostate surgery in the past several weeks.
- Digital rectal exam in the past several weeks.
- Prostate infection (prostatitis) or an
urinary tract infection (UTI) that has not gone
- Tube (catheter) inserted into your bladder to
drain urine recently.
Do not ejaculate for 24 hours before your PSA blood
test, either during sex or masturbation.
Talk to your doctor about
any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will
be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance
of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
The health professional taking a sample
of your blood will:
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to
stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is
easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick
may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is
- Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as
the needle is removed.
- Put pressure to the site and then a
How It Feels
The blood sample is taken from a vein in
your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or
Screening tests aren't perfect. They may miss some cancers, show something that looks like a tumor when it's not one, or find cancers that will never cause a problem. Since there is no way to know which ones will cause harm, cancers are usually treated. This may lead to unnecessary cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Talk to your doctor about whether you should have this screening test. It is important to know the risks of having this test and whether studies show that having the test will reduce your risk of dying from this kind of cancer.
There is very little chance of a problem from
having a blood sample taken from a vein.
- You may get a small bruise at the site. You can
lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several
- In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood
sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used
several times a day to treat this.
- Ongoing bleeding can be a
problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and
other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have
bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell
your doctor before your blood sample is taken.