Part one of a four-part series on the PSA test to demystify the most feared blood marker in men.
Part one: What is PSA and what it does
Part two: Benign reason’s why PSA goes up
Part three: PSA as a screening tool for prostate cancer
Part four: PSA after prostate cancer treatment
No blood test provokes more anxiety than the PSA test.
Not cholesterol, not fasting glucose and, not Triglycerides make a man shake his knees more than the P – S -A test.
What is PSA?
For many, PSA stands for Patient Stimulated Anxiety.
All kidding aside, PSA is for Prostate Specific Antigen, a misnomer since it is not prostate-specific. PSA molecule is also found in a women’s blood who have cervical, uterine and breast cancer (Pummer et al. 1992, Mohajeri et al. 2011).
How Does PSA Work?
PSA is a protease. Any suffix ending with –ase is an enzyme and breaks things down or digests something. For example, lipase digests lipids (fats), sucrase digests sucrose (sugar), etc., like PSA, break a specific protein in men called seminogelin.
Seminogelin is what causes semen to clump up after ejaculating, causes the sperm to immobilize, thus interfering with conception.
You may have noticed that semen clumps up initially after ejaculation. Within a few minutes, it liquefies due to the function of the molecule PSA. This “anti-clumping” aspect is essential for procreation. Sperm cells swim better when they are loose and free.
The purpose of PSA (other than to get you nervous) is for making babies.
Pummer K, Wirnsberger G, Pürstner P, Stettner H, Wandschneider G. False positive prostate specific antigen values in the sera of women with renal cell carcinoma. J Urol. 1992 Jul;148(1):21-3.
Mohajeri A, Zarghami N, Pourhasan Moghadam M, Alani B, Montazeri V, Baiat A, Fekhrjou A.Prostate-specific antigen gene expression and telomerase activity in breast cancer patients: possible relationship to steroid hormone receptors. Oncol Res. 2011;19(8-9):375-80.