In High-Grade Prostate Cancer, Low PSA Levels May Raise Mortality Risk

In High-Grade Prostate Cancer, Low PSA Levels May Raise Mortality Risk
Among patients with high-grade prostate cancer, new research has found that very low prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels may be associated with a higher risk for cancer-specific death. The research, presented in a paper titled “Association of very low prostate-specific antigen levels with increased cancer-specific death in men with high-grade prostate cancer,” was published in the journal Cancer. The PSA test measures the levels of this protein produced in prostate gland cells. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration  in 1994 to test asymptomatic men for prostate cancer, as PSA levels are usually elevated in men with the disease (higher than 4.0 ng/mL). However, elevated PSA levels can be caused by other conditions, such as prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Moreover, studies have found that some men with a prostate cancer diagnosis had PSA levels below 4.0 ng/mL, according to the National Cancer Institute. “An elevated PSA level is a well-known adverse clinical feature and is associated with a poor prognosis. Nevertheless, high-grade disease is found even at PSA levels less than 4 ng/mL, and up to 10% of prostate tumors produce very small amounts of PSA," wrote study author Dr. Paul L. Nguyen, MD, associate professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School and director of prostate brachytherapy and clinical trials for genitourinary radiation oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, according to a
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