What are the limitations of the test?

The PSA test is not diagnostic. PSA is tissue specific but not tumour specific in the prostate. Therefore, other conditions such as benign enlargement of the prostate, prostatitis and lower urinary tract infections can also cause an elevated PSA. Approximately 2 out of 3 men with a raised PSA level will not have prostate cancer. The higher the level of PSA the more likely it is to be cancer. The PSA test cannot distinguish between slow growing cancers that may never cause any symptoms or shorten life, and fast growing cancers.

The PSA test can miss cancer, and provide false reassurance. It can lead to unnecessary anxiety and medical tests when no cancer is present.