7 Misconceptions About PSA Tests and Prostate Cancer

In 2023, approximately 288,300 men in the United States will hear the words, “you have prostate cancer.” Of those men, around 34,700 may die.

If you’re biologically male, especially if you’re over 50, conversations about routine PSA testing for prostate cancer should be top of mind. Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) is a protein produced in the walnut-sized prostate gland. A PSA test measures the level of PSA in a blood sample to predict potential prostate cancer cases. It may seem straightforward – high levels point to possible prostate cancer development – but that’s not always true.

Men must educate themselves about this disease and PSA testing, as surviving prostate cancer depends on early detection.


Misconceptions About Prostate Cancer and Prostate-Specific Antigen

In 2020, New Hope Unlimited published an eye-opening article about the lies surrounding prostate cancer. Today, let’s debunk more myths about PSA testing and prostate cancer to help male readers make an informed decision about their health.


Misconception #1: Prostate Cancer Only Affects Older Men 

This statement is 100% false. While it’s true that prostate cancer risks increase with age, it can affect males of any age. According to a 2019 study published in the American Cancer Society (ACS) Journals, from 2000 to 2015, the youngest prostate cancer patients were between 13 and 16 years old.

Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about your risk level, especially if you have a family history of prostate cancer. 


Misconception #2: A Low or Normal PSA Level Is Safe

PSA screening for prostate cancer has significant limitations, and a low or normal level does not rule out cancer.

A study found that 15.2% of men with a normal PSA level tested positive for prostate cancer on a biopsy. The unreliability of the PSA test has led to the recommendation of a digital rectal exam (DRE), but DREs can also have inaccuracies. Combining methods, such as the Prostate Health Index (PHI), may be more effective.

Certain medications and supplements can falsely decrease PSA levels, so inform your doctor if you take any. Furthermore, although biopsy techniques have improved drastically in recent years, it is not infallible, resulting in a false negative rate of over 30% in men with prostate cancer.


Misconception #3: A High PSA Level Always Means Cancer 

A high PSA level can indicate other health issues, including an enlarged prostate or prostatitis. Aging can also increase a man’s PSA level. Regardless, if your PSA levels are high, discuss the matter with your doctor, who may recommend additional tests or screenings to rule out any potential health issues.


Misconception #4: PSA is Specific to Prostate Cancer

As mentioned above, PSA levels can be high for various reasons besides prostate cancer. Vigorous physical activity, benign prostatic hyperplasia, inflammation, intercourse, masturbation or ejaculation, chronic infections, and certain medications can cause a significant increase in the serum PSA concentration.

A comprehensive diagnostic technique can determine the cause of elevated PSA levels, which may include rare prostatic autoimmune diseases. Therefore, a high PSA level should not always be assumed as cancer or malignancy. Your doctor must consider other factors while interpreting your PSA test results.


Misconception #5: You Only Need a PSA Test if You Have Symptoms 

This myth could not be further from the truth. Difficulty urinating, weak or interrupted urine flow, and burning during urination can indicate prostate cancer, but early detection through regular screening is essential for successful treatment. In other words, don’t wait for symptoms to appear before getting tested.

The American Urological Association encourages all men to consult their physicians about the risks and advantages associated with PSA tests, DREs, and PHIs to determine when to begin screening. In general, doctors recommend scheduling regular prostate cancer screenings at age 40 (or earlier, depending on risk factors).

Some patient advocacy groups, including ZERO–The End of Prostate Cancer, offer support in accessing PSA testing and locating free prostate cancer screening in different communities. Check out their website for more information.


Misconception #6: There is No Treatment for Prostate Cancer 

Although some forms of prostate cancer may not require immediate treatment due to their slow-growing nature, treatments are available for those who need them. Depending on the stage and severity when detected, conventional treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy. On the other side of medicine, alternative treatment options for prostate cancer may include non-toxic approaches such as oxygen therapy. Speak with your oncologist about what type(s) would best suit you based on your individual circumstances.


Misconception #7: It’s Impossible to Lower PSA Levels

Choosing healthy foods and beverages can help lower PSA levels. For instance, lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, watermelons, apricots), lean proteins (fish), and green tea have PSA-lowering properties. In addition, maintaining a healthy body weight and engaging in regular exercise can also help reduce PSA.

It’s important to note, however, that while diet and lifestyle changes may help lower PSA levels, they should not replace proper medical treatment and monitoring for any underlying conditions such as prostate cancer.

The good news is that many PSA-lowering guidelines are already integrated into our food and nutrition plans here at New Hope Unlimited. If you have prostate cancer, our team can provide powerful therapies and non-toxic options currently unavailable in conventional cancer care. Contact us to schedule a consultation and discover how we can help you.


Review and a Word of Advice

These seven misconceptions should help dispel some common misunderstandings regarding prostate cancer and prostate-specific-antigen tests. To recap, remember that these statements are inaccurate: prostate cancer is exclusive to older men; low or normal PSA levels eliminate cancer risks; a high PSA always means cancer is present; PSA is specific to prostate cancer; cancer screening is unnecessary if there are no symptoms; high PSA levels are permanent; and finally, there are no effective treatments for prostate cancer. All of these are false.


Ensure to speak with your physician if you have any questions or concerns about PSA testing to help yourself make the best decision regarding prevention and care going forward.

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