PSA test after prostate removal
I know PSA is used to monitor you after treatment, but how can I have a PSA level if I've had my prostate removed?
PSA stands for prostate specific antigen. It is a chemical made by prostate cells. Normally PSA is found in the seminal fluid. Seminal fluid mixes with sperm before ejaculation. Its role is to make the semen more liquid. Some PSA seeps out of the prostate into the bloodstream. The blood test picks up this PSA. If you have had your prostate removed, there are two reasons why you can still have a PSA reading. These are that
- You may not have had all your prostate taken away
- There may be prostate cancer cells making PSA in other parts of the body
The aim of a radical prostatectomy is to remove all the cancer and have what is known as a border of healthy cells all around the cancer. This is called a clear margin. Other operations such as TUR are more likely to leave some prostate tissue behind. These prostate cells will carry on making PSA. So your PSA blood test still shows a reading.
If you have prostate cancer that has spread, the prostate cancer cells can give out PSA. This is why PSA can be used to monitor your treatment. The more prostate cancer cells there are, the higher your reading. When cancer cells are killed off by treatment, your PSA reading goes down. If your cancer begins to grow, your PSA reading will go up and you may need to have more treatment.
You can find helpful information in our prostate cancer treatment section.
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