What is a PSA test?
The PSA test is a simple blood test that, together with a rectal examination, assists with early detection of prostate cancer. The prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by the prostate gland that is found in the bloodstream. The test is often arranged by your GP who may refer you to a urologist for further review if the PSA level concerns them.
PSA levels can be elevated for a number of reasons, including benign enlargement of the prostate, and your urologist will investigate the cause. The PSA level may be considered suspicious for prostate cancer if the level rises quickly, or if the level rises above the “normal” range for the patient’s age. The interpretation of this test often requires the expertise of a urologist as the risk of prostate cancer is also largely determined by individual patient factors such as age, family history and prostate size. If your urologist is concerned about your risk they may recommend an MRI and/or a biopsy of the prostate.
What is a DRE?
A DRE is a digital rectal examination by your urologist (or GP) that is usually performed in the consulting room to assess the health of the prostate. The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive tract. It surrounds the urethra, which is the thin tube that carries urine or semen out of the body through the penis. Using a gloved finger placed in the rectum or back passage, your urologist will feel the prostate gland and note its size, shape and texture. The examination takes only a few seconds to complete. Most patients do not find the experience to be uncomfortable or painful.