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

  • If the test result is normal, you may feel more reassured.
  • If your PSA level is slightly high, you can continue to have it monitored, especially if you have an increased risk.
  • It can help to find prostate cancer before you have any symptoms.
  • If further tests show you have an early, faster-growing prostate cancer, treatment may cure it or help you live longer.

Possible disadvantages

  • If your PSA level is raised, you may feel anxious and worry about having more tests.
  • It is possible to have a normal PSA level even in men who have prostate cancer.
  • Although a raised PSA level does not always mean you have cancer, you may still need more tests, such as a biopsy, which can cause complications.
  • If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, you will need to make decisions about treatments, which can have difficult side effects.
  • Treating prostate cancer may not help you to live for longer, and treatments with possible risks and side effects can affect your quality of life.

Questions to think about

To help you make your decision, you could think about the following 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 to have the PSA test can be hard. Thinking about what is important to you can help you make the best decision for you.

If you have further questions, contact your GP. You can also call our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm). 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.


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.

Having the PSA test

Your PSA test results will help your doctor decide if you need further tests.