Day to day variation in the measurement of PSA

Richard Whittington, MD
Ultima Vez Modificado:: 15 de septiembre de 2002

Question:

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I had a radical prostatectomy in 1999 when I was 39 years old. I never had any symptoms. A digital rectal exam prompted the PSA. Prior to surgery, my PSA was 33, 100% of biopsy samples were positive with capsular penetration, Gleason 6-7.

Other than surgery, my treatment included Zoladex beginning 3 days prior to surgery, continuing for ~9 months post surgery, and radiation therapy concurrent with the Zoladex.

  • From December 1999 to January 2002, my PSA was 0.00
  • In April 2002 my PSA was 0.07
  • In August 2002 my PSA was 0.12

Is this just random error in the new lab?

Answer:

Richard Whittington, MD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, responds:

Actually, this is an important question. What you should know is that the day-to-day variation in the measurement of PSA is 0.2. That is why we consider anything less than 0.2 to be undetectable. Also, a small amount of PSA is made by the periurethral glands and we will occasionally see a level of 0.2 and rarely 0.3 that becomes undetectable without any therapy. That is why we consider 0.4 the lowest level needing treatment.


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