Below are some of the very basic facts and figures about prostate cancer. (Last updated: November 2022).
NOTE: Many Men will be Asymptomatic.
Visit your doctor. You may find that you have benign prostate hyperplasia (or enlargement), or other problems and not have cancer at all. Early diagnosis of prostate cancer can result in cure or much better choice of treatments.
The PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. It’s normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, and the amount rises slightly as you get older and your prostate gets bigger. A raised PSA level may suggest you have a problem with your prostate, but not necessarily cancer.
You can have a PSA test at your GP surgery. You will need to discuss it with your GP first. At some GP surgeries you can discuss the test with a practice nurse, and they can do a test if you decide you want one.
Who can have a PSA test?
You have the right to a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test if you’re over 50 and you’ve thought carefully about the advantages and disadvantages. If you’re over 45 and have a higher risk of prostate cancer, for example if you’re black or you have a family history of it, you might want to talk to your GP about having a PSA test.
It’s important to think about whether the PSA test is right for you before you decide whether or not to have one. There are a number of things you might want to think about.
Your GP or practice nurse may not recommend the PSA test if you don’t have any symptoms, and you have other serious health problems that mean you might not be fit enough for treatment for prostate cancer, or if treatment for prostate cancer wouldn’t help you to live longer. But if you have symptoms of a possible prostate problem, your GP may arrange for you to see a specialist at the hospital.
Some men are offered a PSA test as part of a general check-up. You should still think about the advantages and disadvantages of the test and whether it is right for you before agreeing to have one.
You have the right to a PSA test if you’re over 50 and you’ve talked through the advantages and disadvantages with your GP or practice nurse. If you’ve talked about it with your GP or practice nurse, and decided that you want to have one, they should give you a PSA test. But we know that some men have trouble getting the test. There are things you can do if your GP or practice nurse won’t give you a test.
Explain that you are entitled to a PSA test under the NHS Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme. It might help to take a print out of this webpage along with you. You might also like to print and show them a copy of our information for GPs.
If they still say no, try speaking to another GP or practice nurse.
If they also say no, speak to the practice manager at your GP surgery.
Your GP surgery should have information about its complaints procedure. You can follow this procedure, or write to the GP or practice manager explaining your complaint.
If you still have trouble getting a PSA test, you could make a complaint through the NHS complaints procedure.
If you live in England, you can complain to NHS England. The NHS website has more information.
If you live in Scotland, you can make a complaint to your local health board. Get more information from NHS National Services Scotland.
If you live in Wales, you can make a complaint to your local health board. Health in Wales has more information.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can make a complaint to the Health and Social Care board. Get more information from nidirect.
Make sure you include the following information in your complaint:
your contact details – such as your home address, telephone number or email address
a clear description of your complaint – including what happened, where and when
details of any relevant conversations, letters or emails you’ve had.
You can get advice and support about making a complaint from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
If your GP or practice nurse won’t give you a PSA test and you’re not sure whether to make a complaint, get in touch with our Specialist Nurses. They can help you understand your risk of prostate cancer so that you can decide what to do next.