Variety of prostate tests performed when diagnosing prostate related conditions.
So you just recently started experiencing prostate related problems and a doctor visit for a prostate test is due. Or perhaps your health is fine, but you haven’t been to a urologist for a while, and a want a check up for a peace of mind. Well the latter is rarely the case, since us men, we prefer to think everything is ok and wait for the very last minute. Anyhow, you heard about all sorts of horrid procedures that are done to you when performing prostate tests, and you are not particularly excited about this visit. Well, what you can do to be prepared is to educate yourself on what exactly these procedures involve. So read on!
Various prostate tests can and should be used to try and find the underlying causes for prostate related symptoms, or simply to keep on top of one’s prostate health. These tests are your best chance to detect the early warning signs or first appearance of prostate cancer.
Prostate Specific Antigen Test
This is a blood test, so nothing to be worried about here. PSA, or prostate specific antigens are enzymes believed to be produced in the prostate which eventually make their way into the bloodstream. Once in the blood, PSA may become bound to one of two different proteins, or may remain free. When the prostate is in a healthy state, more of these free PSA’s are found in the bloodstream, while they’re more likely to be bound to one of the two proteins when cancer is present in the prostate.
This prostate test measures the levels of these PSA’s, and quantifies it by applying a value that shows the relative amount of free and bound PSA’s in the blood. A reading below 4 (ng/ml) is considered normal. Between 4 and 10 is considered to be mildly elevated, between 10 and 20 moderately elevated, and anything above 20 is extremely elevated.
The one drawback to this test is that it’s not always a sure indicator of the presence of prostate cancer, even when PSA levels are highly elevated. This is because various factors beyond just the health of the prostate can influence the PSA levels in the blood. A high reading can at least be the first step towards making a surer diagnosis of prostate cancer, and will likely lead to further tests.
Express Prostatic Secretion Test
This may be a bit uncomfortable as anal insertion is required and is also known as Digital Rectum Exam (DRE) It is also that one procedure that everyone makes jokes about and can generally be rather intimidating. Click here to learn more about DRE.
This prostate test is commonly performed during a routine rectal examination, and consists of the doctor taking a sample of prostatic fluid, which drips out of the penis when pressure is applied to the prostate. This sample is then studied at the doctor’s office or a lab, where the search for immune-active white blood cells is the number one priority. When these cells number 5 parts per high-powered field or more, there’s a good chance that an infection is present. Under further scrutiny, the sample may also be able to shed light on which infectious organism is present.
Segmented Urine Culture Test
This is one of the simplest ways to get a prostate test completed, being no more than a detailed urinalysis. All you need to do is submit a urine sample! During urination, the urine is collected at three key stages; right at the beginning of urination, near the middle, and at the very end of urination. Because the urine largely comes from different regions during each of these varying stages of urination, this test can shed light on any existing problems, and where exactly in the body they can be found.
Albumin is found in the blood, and is another good indicator of prostate conditions and general health, yet it’s typically passed over by doctors when doing routine blood work. If getting blood work done, be sure to ask specifically for your albumin levels, or ask for a copy of the report so you can check them yourself.
Albumin is a water soluble protein, important for its ability to regulate our volume of blood, fight off free radicals in the blood stream, keep our pH levels balanced, and help transport oxygen and nutrients throughout our blood. The lower your albumin levels are, the greater the risk of not just prostate conditions, but also liver and kidney problems, and other ailments. A healthy albumin level is considered to be between the 3.5 to 5 range for adults.
Ultrasound and Prostate Biopsy
If either the PSA or the DRE are found to be abnormal, then the doctor may choose to follow this testing with a prostate biopsy and perhaps imaging tests, such as an ultrasound to get a more detailed picture.