What is a dangerous # for a man's PSA to be, before becoming prostate cancer?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband's PSA # has been increasing and has been diagnosed with a very enlarged prostate. He has been advised to have his prostate trimmed, but is hesitant to do so at this time, because he says he doesn't have trouble urinating. If he leaves it go much longer, will it turn into prostate cancer? His psa this past week was 6.7, up 10% from his previous reading from 3 months ago.

Expert Answer

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

The dangerous number for a PSA before you worry about prostate cancer varies depending on the man's age. The number usually considered normal for a PSA is 4. It is important to understand that as a man ages, his prostate enlarges. A larger prostate will cause a higher PSA. So for a younger person, say below 60 years old, the PSA should be well below 4. A normal PSA is considered to increase by less than 0.7 per year. So if your husband's PSA rose 10% in 3 months (from about 6 to 6.7), it does NOT mean that he has cancer but it certainly means that he COULD HAVE CANCER due to the rapid increase in his PSA. He should see his doctor to discuss a prostate biopsy to evaluate for the possibility of cancer.