What is PSA?
PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. Prostate Specific Antigen is a glycoprotein enzyme that is released by the prostate gland. The normal PSA level is < 4.0 ng/ml. PSA is used to monitor the effect of prostate cancer treatment with chemotherapy or radiation, determine disease process and prognosis, and detect a recurrence of cancer. A PSA level can be increased by the following conditions: prostate cancer, benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, prostate biopsy and prostate surgery.
Is it helpful to check PSA in the middle of radiation therapy?
No. A PSA level in the middle of radiation is not a good indication of the progress of therapy since it can take many months for the PSA to drop down and reflect any change. Also, radiation therapy causes inflammation of the prostate and the PSA can be artificially high or low. You will see your urologist four weeks after the radiation is complete. You should get a PSA level one week prior to your appointment with the urologist.
What should my PSA level be after radiation?
After radiation treatment we are no longer using PSA as a screening tool. We are using the PSA blood test as a marker for response to therapy. The reference range of 0-4 as “normal” no longer applies. If you still have a prostate, we want the PSA value to be as low as possible within 18-22 months. It may even be undetectable if you used hormonal therapy. After your PSA reaches its lowest value, “Nadir PSA,” it will start to bounce. PSA bounce is normal. We are not concerned unless PSA rises to “Nadir PSA + 2.” If your prostate was removed before radiation, we expect your PSA to be less than 0.2 or undetectable.
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, contact the Austin Center for Radiation Oncology to schedule a consultation with Dr. Richard Garza.