PSA test: Benefits and limitations

Consider the benefits and limitations of a PSA test when choosing whether to undergo prostate cancer screening.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Weighing the benefits, limitations and potential risks of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer can help you make an informed decision.

Benefits of the test

A PSA test may help detect prostate cancer at an early stage. Cancer is easier to treat and is more likely to be cured if it's diagnosed in its early stages.

But to judge the benefit of the test, it's important to know if early detection and early treatment will improve treatment outcomes and decrease the number of deaths from prostate cancer.

A key issue is the typical course of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer usually progresses slowly over many years. Therefore, a man may have prostate cancer that never causes symptoms or becomes a medical problem during his lifetime.

Mar. 28, 2014 See more In-depth