A PSA test is a blood test for prostate problems and is not a test for prostate cancer.
However, now experts have linked PSA screening with a considerable reduction in the risk of death from prostate cancer.
A new review, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has suggested screening could significantly reduce the the risk of prostate cancer death.
There is no screening programme for prostate cancer and the PSA test is not routinely available on the NHS.
There have been questions over how reliable the test is.
However, the new study, led by Ruth Etzioni of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle has called previous research into question.
Experts now believe when men – who first the criteria for PSA screening – get the PSA test, the reduction in deaths due to prostate cancer was between 25 per cent to 32 per cent, the study revealed.
Some researchers and medics believe the PSA test can cause people to over treat people with a high reading – but others have argued the information could provide a good base for planning – or keeping an eye on the condition.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men in the UK.
One man, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer has spoken out about PSA testing.
PSA stands for prostate specific antigen – and is a protein made in the prostate gland
It is released into the blood stream in very small quantities and can be measured in the PSA test.
PSA levels can be higher due to conditions such as an enlarged prostate, or prostatitis, however a raised level can also be an indicator of cancer.
The prostate is a 3cm long muscular gland located just below the bladder.
It sits close to nerves and blood vessels that govern bladder function and erection so it is a delicate area of the human body.
FACTORS PUTTING YOU AT RISK OF PROSTATE CANCER
The gland produces a thick, white fluid that mixes with the sperm made by the testicles to make semen.
However, the test can help diagnose very early prostate cancer, before symptoms develop.
NHS Choices said: ”There are well-known issues with the accuracy of the PSA test and potential harmful consequences, which is why there is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK.
“Instead, all men over the age of 50 can access quality information about the PSA test and discuss the option of having a free test with their GP as part of a scheme called the prostate cancer risk management programme (PCRMP).”
The amount of PSA in the blood is measured in nanogram of PSA per millilitre of blood (ng/ml).
PSA levels can range from less than 1ng/ml to hundreds of ng/ml.
If you’re aged 50 to 69, your PSA level is considered raised if it’s 3ng/ml or higher.