Benefits and disadvantages of having the PSA test

Before deciding whether to have the PSA test, it can help to think about the possible benefits and disadvantages. You can talk about these with your GP or nurse.

Possible benefits of the PSA test

  • It could reassure you if the test result is normal.
  • If your PSA level is slightly high, it can be monitored.
  • It can help to find prostate cancer before you have any symptoms.
  • Finding prostate cancer early means it can be treated or monitored.

Possible disadvantages of the PSA test

  • You may feel anxious if your PSA level is raised.
  • You could get a normal PSA result even if prostate cancer is present.
  • A raised PSA result does not always mean cancer. You may have more tests, such as a biopsy, even if you don’t have cancer.
  • If you do have cancer, the test can’t tell you if it’s likely to cause problems in the future.
  • If you do have an early prostate cancer, treating it may not help you live longer. Treatment may have risks and side effects that affect your quality of life.

We have more information about having tests for prostate cancer and understanding early (localised) prostate cancer to help you make a decision.

Questions to think about

To help you make your decision, you could think about these questions:

  • What would you do if your PSA level is high?
  • What would you do if further tests find that you have an early prostate cancer?
  • What difference will it make for you to know about an early prostate cancer?

Deciding whether or not to have the PSA test can be hard. By thinking about what’s important to you, you can make the decision that’s best for you. Using the NHS decision making aid may help you with this.

If you have further questions, contact your GP. You can also call our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00. They can discuss the options with you and send you more information.

It was my final decision, but it wasn’t a decision that I went off and made on my own. It was in combination with my family, with my wife and the GP.

Jamal, affected by cancer

Back to PSA test

What is the PSA test?

The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that measures levels of PSA protein in the blood.