Can PSA provide an indication of prostate cancer

PSA test for early detection of prostate cancer

What is the PSA test?

The PSA test is a blood test. The abbreviation PSA means prostate-specific antigen. Urologists or general practitioners and internists measure the concentration of the protein PSA, which is formed in the prostate. The aim is to rule out the presence of prostate cancer or to detect a tumor as early as possible. The PSA value is given in nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng / ml). In a healthy man, the value is usually low. If the value is below 2 ng / ml, a check-up after two years is sufficient, according to the scientific recommendation for doctors (called the guideline), if the prostate is normal. If the PSA value is between 2 and 4 ng / ml, a check-up after one year is recommended. If it is less than 1 ng / ml, a check-up after four years is sufficient. A tissue sample is generally recommended from a PSA value of four nanograms per milliliter (ng / ml).

How common is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, but it has a good chance of a cure. Around 60,000 men develop it in Germany every year. In the statistics of cancer deaths, prostate cancer ranks third after lung cancer and colon cancer. Since prostate cancer in particular usually grows slowly and men often only develop the disease in old age, many men do not die from the tumor, but with their tumor, i.e. from other diseases.

What does the statutory health insurance pay?

From the age of 45, men with statutory health insurance can take advantage of a palpation examination once a year. The doctor examines the prostate, the lymph nodes in the groin and the external genitals. Through the anus, the doctor feels the surface of the prostate facing the intestine with his finger. With this digital rectal examination, a tumor is detected in around a fifth of all patients. However, only malicious changes above a certain size can be detected.

If there is a specific suspicion of cancer, for example if changes are detected during the palpation examination, the PSA test becomes a health insurance benefit. The statutory health insurance companies then also cover the costs for tissue samples and ultrasound examinations. In addition, the health insurers pay for the PSA test during cancer treatment, for example when planning and monitoring a treatment.