PSA test for prostate cancer

Routine health checks

The main treatments for prostate cancer have significant side effects and there is no certainty that treatment will be successful. But some people assume that if prostate cancer is diagnosed early it can be cured, and so gladly accept a PSA test when it is offered. 

Men sometimes refer to these tests as MOTs, in which cholesterol, blood pressure etc. are checked. Some men saw the PSA test as a natural element of these check-ups, although others pointed out that the PSA test is very different from the other routine tests, and should not be taken lightly (see 'Deciding whether or not to have the PSA test'). Some men assume the PSA test should be done when they reach 'a certain age'. 

Some companies offer PSA tests as part of a routine health check. 

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There isn't a prostate cancer screening programme for men in the UK (see 'The pros and cons of a national screening programme for prostate cancer'), but it appears that some men also have PSA tests when they attend their GP's surgery for regular health checks. 

One man we talked to had once lived in Canada. From the age of 30 he had had yearly 'physical examinations', including a digital rectal examination. When he moved to the UK he attended his local health centre for these yearly health checks and in 2004 his GP suggested he have a PSA test.

Last reviewed May 2016.

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