When a man schedules a prostate specific antigen test (PSA), there are certain activities he needs to avoid right before the test that can affect the results. Like most screening tests, the PSA is a not a perfect test but it is still a necessary screening tool for detecting prostate cancer for all men beginning at age 40.
Since the PSA value can change by 15-20% depending on how and when the test is administered, to improve the accuracy, there are certain things a man should avoid to get the most accurate reading possible. Here is a list of what men should not do before a PSA test:
· No sex or ejaculation for 48 hours prior to a PSA test. PSA is a protein produced in the prostate gland and found at high concentrations in semen. The PSA test detects how much is spilling into the blood – there should not be much. Elevated blood levels could be a sign of cancer but could also mean an enlarged prostate or a prostate infection.
To ensure an accurate reading, avoid sex including masturbation two days before your blood is drawn.
· Inform your doctor of all drugs/medications/herbal supplements you are using. Some drugs can lower a PSA reading. For example, Proscar and Avodart (used to treat an enlarged prostate) and Propecia (used to treat male hair loss) can artificially lower your PSA level. The herbal supplement saw palmetto may also falsely lower the reading of a PSA test.
Other medications that may falsely lower a man’s PSA reading are any man taking aspirin, statin drugs such as Lipitor or Crestor, or thiazide diuretics.
Medications that may cause a rise in PSA levels include testosterone or other hormones.
· Avoid vigorous activity and exercise that may stimulate the prostate such as bicycle riding, motorcycling, riding a horse, an ATV, or even a tractor for a couple of days before testing your PSA. Any of these activities could potentially raise PSA levels unnaturally.
· Wait at least six weeks after undergoing any of the following procedures: prostate biopsy, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), urethral catheter, cystoscopy or any other procedure that involves the prostate.
Men need to have their prostate checked regularly especially if they have any family history of prostate cancer.