vials with fluid in a lab

Which Lab Tests Can Detect Prostate Cancer?

The PSA test is a blood test that can detect prostate cancer in men early and it’s a part of the Male Hormone Lab test. Doctors test for a protein called PSA in the bloodstream. If a guy has a higher PSA level, he may have prostate cancer, but it can also be due to other less serious conditions.1 It’s vital to understand that this test isn’t flawless and occasionally requires further inspections. Finding cancer early can improve treatment outcomes, thus this test is extremely beneficial for keeping men healthy.

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Prostate cancer, a common health problem among men, particularly as they age, highlights the importance of laboratory testing in early identification and treatment. The significance of these tests stems from their capacity to detect possible indicators of prostate cancer at an early stage, when the illness is most curable and before symptoms appear.

vials with fluid in a lab

This basic review will look at the many lab tests available for prostate cancer detection, emphasizing their importance in the prompt and correct identification of this illness, increasing the likelihood of effective treatment and improving patient outcomes.

Male Hormone Lab Test

he PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test is a blood test used primarily to detect prostate cancer. It detects the presence of prostate-specific antigen, a protein generated by both normal and malignant cells in the prostate, in a man’s bloodstream. Here’s a full description of how the PSA test identifies prostate cancer:

PSA is a protein generated by the prostate gland, a tiny organ found under the bladder in males. PSA’s major purpose is to liquefy semen, however a limited quantity of this protein reaches the circulation.2

The PSA test involves taking a blood sample from the patient and sending it to a laboratory for examination. The test determines the levels of PSA in the blood, which is commonly expressed as nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL).

The pace at which PSA levels climb over time, known as PSA velocity, might potentially be a crucial consideration.3 A quick increase in PSA values may indicate an increased risk of prostate cancer.

The PSA level might be an indicator of prostate health. In general, a higher PSA level raises the risk of prostate cancer, but elevated levels can also be caused by other prostate conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis (prostate inflammation), as well as other factors such as recent ejaculation or prostate manipulation.

Normal Range

Typically, a PSA level less than 4 ng/mL is considered normal.4

Elevated PSA

Levels beyond this level may suggest an increased risk of prostate cancer. However, no particular level can confirm or rule out prostate cancer.

Gray Area

PSA levels between 4 and 10 ng/mL pose a diagnostic problem since the risk of prostate cancer is around 25%, but other benign diseases can also cause PSA rise.5


In conclusion, the use of laboratory testing, notably the PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test, is critical in the early diagnosis of prostate cancer. Early identification is critical because it increases the chance of effective therapy and improves patient outcomes. While the PSA test is the primary approach for initial screening, it is critical to understand its limits and the need for further tests in specific situations. Early diagnosis with these blood tests allows for prompt intervention, potentially less aggressive therapies, and a better probability of illness management success. Thus, knowing and employing these lab tests judiciously is a critical component of prostate cancer therapy, stressing the need for ongoing study and progress in diagnostic procedures for this common disease.

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Lab Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to do lab tests occasionally?

It is important to do lab tests occasionally because they can provide valuable information about an individual's health and help to identify potential health issues early on. Lab tests can measure a wide range of factors, including blood count, cholesterol levels, liver and kidney function, and hormone levels, and can provide insight into an individual's overall health and wellness. Additionally, lab tests can help to diagnose and monitor the progression of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can help to identify any potential health risks or concerns. By doing lab tests occasionally, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of potential health problems in the future.

What does a routine blood test cover?

A routine blood test is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. Blood tests can also be used to check how well certain organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are functioning.

How is a blood sample collected for lab testing?

A blood sample for lab testing is typically collected through a process called venipuncture, which involves inserting a small needle into a vein to draw blood. This is usually done on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

What is the cost of a lab test?

In general, the cost of a lab test can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It is always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to get an accurate estimate of the cost of a lab test.

Read More: Lab Testing FAQ


[1] Nepal A, Sharma P, Bhattarai S, Mahajan Z, Sharma A, Sapkota A, Sharma A. Extremely Elevated Prostate-Specific Antigen in Acute Prostatitis: A Case Report. Cureus. 2023 Aug 18;15(8):e43730. doi: 10.7759/cureus.43730. PMID: 37727194; PMCID: PMC10505831.;

[2] Anamthathmakula P, Winuthayanon W. Mechanism of semen liquefaction and its potential for a novel non-hormonal contraception†. Biol Reprod. 2020 Aug 4;103(2):411-426. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioaa075. PMID: 32529252; PMCID: PMC7523691.;

[3] Vickers AJ, Brewster SF. PSA Velocity and Doubling Time in Diagnosis and Prognosis of Prostate Cancer. Br J Med Surg Urol. 2012 Jul 1;5(4):162-168. doi: 10.1016/j.bjmsu.2011.08.006. PMID: 22712027; PMCID: PMC3375697.;

[4] Liu X, Wang J, Zhang SX, Lin Q. Reference Ranges of Age-Related Prostate-Specific Antigen in Men without Cancer from Beijing Area. Iran J Public Health. 2013 Nov;42(11):1216-22. PMID: 26171333; PMCID: PMC4499062.;

[5] Shtricker A, Shefi S, Ringel A, Gillon G. PSA levels of 4.0 - 10 ng/mL and negative digital rectal examination. Antibiotic therapy versus immediate prostate biopsy. Int Braz J Urol. 2009 Sep-Oct;35(5):551-5; discussion 555-8. doi: 10.1590/s1677-55382009000500006. PMID: 19860933.;