Skip to main content

Login to North West London Pathology – consumables service

If you need a new account or you have a query about your order, please telephone the pathology call centre on 0203 313 5353.

If you have forgotten your password you can reset this yourself. Please click here if you have forgotten your password.

Results Line and Enquiries

0203 313 5353

Prostate specific antigen (PSA), percentage free

Category Biochemistry >> Oncology
Test background

PSA is a single chain chymotrypsin-like serine protease of approximately 30 kDa. It is produced by the epithelial cells lining the acini and ducts of the prostate gland, and plays a role in the liquefaction of seminal fluid. Low levels of PSA are found in the blood as a result of leakage from the prostate gland. Increasing levels of serum PSA are associated with prostatic pathology, including prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and cancer of the prostate. Urinary retention, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), prostate biopsy, prostate massage and ejaculation may also give rise to increases in serum PSA levels. In the sera PSA is mostly bound to either α-2 macroglobulin (AMG) or α-1 antichymotrypsin (ACT). The total PSA test measures free PSA and that bound to ACT with approximate equimolarity. PSA bound to AMG is not detected by the total PSA test. The proportion of protein-bound PSA increases in malignancy compared with that observed in BPH or prostatitis. Hence, separate measurement of free PSA and calculation of the ratio (the %fPSA test) is helpful in distinguishing men with prostate cancer from men with BPH, particularly when direct rectal examination is negative yet clinical suspicion remains high. A percentage free PSA ≤10 % in a healthy male with total PSA 4-10 µg/L increases the probability of biopsy-positive prostate cancer approximately 3 fold.

Clinical Indications

Diagnosis: the use of %fPSA is recommended as an aid in distinguishing men with prostate cancer from those with BPH when total PSA level is between 4-10 µg/L and DRE is negative. It can also be helpful in identifying prostate cancer in men despite initial negative biopsy findings.

Reference range

(Double check there is no reference range)

Sample & container required SST (gold top) preferred, serum (red top) accepted
Sample volume 0.5mL
Turnaround time 4 days

Abbott Alinity

Blood should be drawn before any manipulation of the prostate and several weeks after resolution of prostatitis.