Your doctor may use the term ‘normal PSA level’. But there isn’t a single normal PSA level for all men, as the level naturally gets higher as you get older. The level also varies with the size of your prostate gland. The size is different from man to man and the gland also gets bigger with age.
Your doctor will tell you what they think the normal level of PSA should be for you. They generally use these levels:
- For men in their 50s, a PSA level of up to 3 nanograms per millilitre of blood (3ng/ml).
- For men in their 60s, a PSA level of up to 4ng/ml.
- For men in their 70s, a PSA level of up to 5ng/ml.
- There are no PSA level limits for men aged 80 and over.
What can affect the PSA level?
As men get older, the level of PSA in the blood rises slowly. It may also be raised by some common prostate problems or by cancer in the prostate. The level of PSA in the blood can also be raised by:
- some types of exercise, such as long-distance running or cycling
- having a urinary catheter (a tube to drain urine)
- receiving prostate stimulation
- having a digital rectal examination (DRE)
- prostate or bladder surgery
- having a prostate biopsy.
These may raise the PSA level for a short time. Your doctor can give you advice about how long you may have to wait for the level to come back down if you decide to have the PSA test.
Some drugs can lower the PSA level in your blood, for example finasteride (Proscar®) and dutasteride (Avodart®, Combodart®). These drugs are taken to help with urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate gland.
If you have the PSA test, it’s important to let your GP or nurse know about any medicines you’re taking. This includes any over-the-counter drugs, complementary therapies or herbal drugs.