Should You Have a Repeat PSA Test?

If your doctor suspects you may have prostate cancer because of an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, you might want to ask for a repeat PSA test to confirm the results, says a Canadian study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. It could save you from undergoing an unnecessary prostate biopsy that could entail serious complications.

Of 1,268 men who underwent a second PSA test within three months of their first test showing elevated PSA levels, 315 (24.8 percent) had normal results the second time around.

As a result of their findings, published online in December 2015, the researchers recommend that men with elevated PSA levels should repeat the test before undergoing a biopsy. Elevated PSA levels might result from infection, physical activity, or sexual activity.

The American Urological Association already recommends that the decision to undergo a biopsy shouldn’t be based on a single PSA test result. However, other studies reveal that only 16 to 56 percent of primary care physicians ordered a repeat test for patients with abnormal results.

Most experts agree that PSA screening should be used with a digital rectal examination and additional information (such as family history, race, and age) to assess the likelihood of prostate cancer being present. The PSA test should be performed following a discussion with your doctor about its benefits and risks.