A-Z

PSA test for prostate cancer

Waiting for the results of a PSA test

Most of the men we talked to waited one to two weeks for the result of a PSA test, but a few waited much longer (which is now very unusual). The fastest result was available 24 hours after the blood had been taken.

 

His PSA result came back from the hospital after about 10 days.

His PSA result came back from the hospital after about 10 days.

Age at interview: 40
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
For people that aren't sure, can you say a little bit about what the PSA test is, what does it mean and what's involved?

Well essentially it's a blood test and when I had it, it was again a pin prick and the blood is taken for analysis at one's local hospital, well one's local haematology department and the results come back. Mine took I think about ten days all told. Now different GPs have different ways of working things out, some GPs say there's if nothing wrong they'll call you, some say if there's something wrong they'll call you [laughs] so it may be dependent on how one's GP works but I called into my GP to find out what the results were he said you know call back in about ten days' time and so I did that and he said it was a little bit high, that I should pop in. So I popped in and then he showed me the chart because it's all typed out, he showed me, it was a little bit high, I can't remember the actual figures now but it was a wee bit high and we, we did a few more tests as well and then he referred me to the urology department to actually have a digital examination.
 
 

Four months after his PSA test he still hadn't got the result.

Four months after his PSA test he still hadn't got the result.

Age at interview: 49
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
You say you're still waiting for the results many months later?

Yes [laughs] I've not actually been informed by the surgery one way or another which is rather strange on my part, may be a sort of reticence to actually may be face up to the fact that it could be positive but I'm working on the basis if they haven't got back to me screaming saying, 'Oy we need to talk to you', that there isn't a problem.

How many months ago?

4 or 5 months.

How has it been waiting all this time for the results?

As I say I've kind of filed it in the 'too hard' drawer. It's probably my fault for not following it up but I'm equally surprised that the surgery hasn't come back and said, 'Oy, we've got this blood test result, do you want to know what it is?' But that could be because of the state of the surgery and the fact that they're so busy there. I'm pretty certain that if it was positive they would've come back saying, 'We need to see you.'

While waiting for the results of the test men often felt confident that all was well. Men without symptoms who had had a PSA test as part of a routine health check were least likely to worry. 

 

He didn't worry while waiting for the PSA result because a previous test result had been normal...

He didn't worry while waiting for the PSA result because a previous test result had been normal...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Going back to your last PSA test on the National Health Service do you know what the result of that was?

I think it was, is it, I was under three I think. Is that, would that be so? It was about 2.7 or something.

And, and how was that result delivered to you?

I went into the doctor probably I think to get a, a repeat prescription for the blasted medication [laugh] that I'm on, right. And I said do you know what's the. I think that had there been anything wrong they would have got in, in contact with me by phoning, but I find it a very, very good practice. And I think they would, they would have been in to get a an appointment. When you haven't got anything wrong with you then you can so easily go in to the I mean you can even ask over the, over the reception to, to if there's, if there's a problem. 

How long did you have to wait for the results of that test do you think?

Oh I think that it, I mean it was, it was back very quickly. I could have gone into reception and asked over the desk but, but I didn't. I just waited until I next went in which happened to be about three weeks because again I was not that, I was not that phased by it really.

Don't they have to send it away to a laboratory?

Yes they do but I don't think it takes all that amount of time though, though I can't swear to this because I wasn't sort of [whoops]. I wasn't pacing up and down worrying about it. It's not because I'm a cool person at all it's just, I didn't actually think that I had it.
 

Some men assumed that any symptoms they had were due to an infection, inflammation, or benign enlargement of the prostate, rather than cancer.

 

Assumed he had a urinary infection so didn't worry while waiting for his PSA test result.

Assumed he had a urinary infection so didn't worry while waiting for his PSA test result.

Age at interview: 66
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
How long did you have to wait to get the results of the PSA test?

It was very quick, it was very quick, I mean I can't be certain but it's something like a couple of weeks I think, I don't think it was any longer than that.

And how were you feeling during that waiting time?

I never actually felt that I had prostate cancer. I felt all along that it was a urinary infection and that in a sense it was all a lot of fuss about nothing. I don't honestly think that I ever felt that I, that I was particularly worried about what was going on, I was a bit annoyed about what was going on but I, I honestly don't think I was worried about it, I just didn't feel, I don't know why I didn't feel I had prostate cancer because I don't know what it [laughs] what it feels like to have prostate cancer but I felt that what I'd been suffering from if you like, which had the led the GP into getting me to have the PSA test, was a urinary infection, that it was nothing more than that, it wasn't serious and I wasn't greatly alarmed. I was a little annoyed at the whole thing but once, once the process had started of going to the local hospital, having various tests done and so on I went with the flow, there wasn't any point in not.
 

But other men felt apprehensive, particularly if they had had a previous abnormal PSA test result, or were worrying that they might have cancer. Some men found the time just before the result was due particularly difficult. A man who 'buried himself in his work and family' while waiting for his PSA results, suggested that this might have been a means of coping.

 

He worked hard and tried to forget about the PSA test while waiting for the results

He worked hard and tried to forget about the PSA test while waiting for the results

Age at interview: 67
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
How did you feel when you were waiting for the results?

Again I just buried myself in my job and my family and ignored it. In fact didn't ring up for some time afterwards. It may be a form of coping. I'm not sure. I'm not sure but and so I'll continue to do that until actually it starts to affect. Even if I'm told I have cancer I shall continue to do that until it actually starts to affect my family or my work.

And you had the second PSA test about two weeks ago?

Yes.

And have you had the results of that yet?

Well, I, I'm sure it's arrived but I haven't actually rung up to find out.
 
 

Has a PSA test every 6 months and feels very anxious just before he gets the results.

Has a PSA test every 6 months and feels very anxious just before he gets the results.

Age at interview: 61
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Is it still affecting your every day life at the moment, do you feel anxious on a day to day basis because of it?

Not really in between PSA tests but then you come up to a period where you're going to have another PSA test and the old anxieties sort of return. You know particularly the few days leading up to getting the results and you realise that the figures could go anywhere and it's kind of again a possible execution order as I see it, it's as extreme as that. Well if you were told that you had figure of 20ng per ml well that would almost certainly indicate that you had prostate cancer.

And please tell me again how long are you having to wait between the blood tests and the results now?

In Britain about a week, it was longer in the case of the USA rather surprisingly.

And do you get the results over the telephone or do you go back to see the consultant to get the results?

In Britain I get the results over the telephone so I really can't fault that. I do feel that those results are the patient's results, they are figures relating to the patient's condition and I don't like any feeling that the health authorities can, or should protect the patients from these figures, one needs to know them to make the right kind of decisions.

So now you're having a PSA test every 6 months?

6 months yes.

And I can see it's had a huge effect on your life this PSA testing?

Mm.

 

Thinking something was 'drastically wrong' he worried while waiting for the result of another PSA...

Thinking something was 'drastically wrong' he worried while waiting for the result of another PSA...

Age at interview: 52
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
What was it like waiting for the results, those days?

Not good. The, the first, the first signal of the PSA being high, raised, because I knew that the first one was 2 and the second one was 7.2, that, that immediately put alarm bells into me that something was drastically wrong. Unless it was an absolute false test then I was very, very worried. And, and subsequently when the second test came back at 6.2, that further increased the, my worry that there was something, there was something seriously wrong. 

What was your understanding of what might have caused a raised PSA if it wasn't a, a serious problem?

Well, the two understandings I had was either it was c-, it was a benign growth, which w-, wasn't cancer in prostate, or it was, it was prostate cancer. And in my case it turned out to be prostate cancer.

Last reviewed May 2016.
Last updated May 2016.

donate
Previous Page
Next Page