Prostate Cancer Survivors






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PSA question

Since being diagnosed with Pc, PSA has become a major subject. I have read and listened to many reports from many cases and find it to be as confusing as about anything else concerning this disease and diagnoses of it.

I have mine checked at six month intervals at two different providers. One only reports down to 0.1 and the other goes two decimal places, supposedly to 0.00 though I have never been to that desired level. I have seen some examples going to three decimal places - (0.000) - and it appears to me that those are usually very low. Is it just my point of view or is there a reason that the more "accurate" three decimal test results come back so low? At first I thought it might just be a misplaced decimal point but after seeing multiple results here, I have to believe it is accurate.

The one claims that less than 0.1 is undetectable - (easy for them to say!). My other one comes in as 0.07 and is detectable - since it is not zero. My question would be, would the 0.07 still come back as 0.07? (something) using the more accurate test? Does the three decimal test use the same scale? Is the three decimal test perhaps overkill since, as I am told, there are other VERY SMALL sources of PSA in the body and even women have small traces of it in their blood. Jon R.

Re: PSA question


There are two PSA tests. Standard and Ultra Sensitive. Normally the Ultra Sensitive is only used after a prostatectomy. They both use the same scale, and have the same accuracy. The standard can measure PSA levels down to .1. The Ultra Sensitive can typically measure PSA levels down to .015.

The Ultra Sensitive is simply around 10 times more sensitive than the standard PSA test. So after a prostatectomy, you are hoping for an undetectable PSA and the Ultra Sensitive is the best one to determine if you are truly undetectable.

So if your PSA is .07 and you had a standard PSA test it would come back as <.1 and it would be considered undetectable.

So the difference between these two tests is sensitivity and not accuracy.


Re: PSA question

Undetectable is a historical term which originally meant that it was undetectable with the test available about 10 tears ago which was .1. This confusion occurs after a prostatectomy when the PSA levels are usually very low, The term is still used to refer to any PSA reading less than 0.1 in some literature even if, as an example, it might be measured .07 by the PSA test of today. So you may be told your PSA is undetectable even when the lab result shows 0.07. "Undetectable" sort of means it is not significant as most of the old protocols for treatment needed a PSA greater than .1 before doing anything.