Waypoint 1: PSA Testing

The PSA test can be useful when combined with additional testing like PCM tests.

Is PSA the best prostate cancer screening test?

Regular PSA screening in all men is controversial because it can lead to over-treatment that can result in serious side effects, such as impotence and incontinence. When used with additional testing like prostate cancer markers (PCM), the PSA test can be useful.

In fact, the US Preventive Services Task Force gives routine PSA testing a “C” grade based on potential benefit vs. harm. However, as widespread PSA screening rates have declined, men have been dying at the same rate—despite advancements in treatment. Researchers also have found an association between reduced PSA screenings and an increase in the percentage of men diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer that has metastasized, according to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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PCM Tests Before Prostate Biopsy

The PSA test for prostate cancer can be an important step in identifying prostate cancer early when combined with additional testing, particularly PCM tests. Traditionally, only men with a PSA greater than 4.0 ng/ML are referred for biopsies. However, current research has found that men with a PSA result greater than 1.5 ng/ML may be at risk of already having developed prostate cancer depending on other risk factors.

If your PSA test is more than 1.5 ng/ML, you and your physician could consider one of the following blood-based tests:

Test vial for blood-based prostate cancer marker

4Kscore® Test

This blood-based prostate cancer biomarker test helps determine whether or not a patient has aggressive prostate cancer that would be detected in a biopsy.

Test vial for blood-based prostate cancer marker

Prostate health index (phi)

The phi score combines data from three blood tests to determine if an elevated PSA score may be due to a benign condition or cancer, which could warrant a biopsy.

You and your physician could also consider these urine-based prostate cancer marker tests: 

Urine-based prostate cancer marker


This prostate cancer urine marker test looks at three biomarkers to determine if a patient does not have high grade prostate cancer and may not need a biopsy.

Urine-based prostate cancer marker

Select mdx

This urine test looks for specific prostate cancer biomarkers and is more accurate in assessing a man’s risk of clinically significant prostate cancer than the PSA test.

If you have a family history of prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer or colorectal cancer, you and your healthcare provider may also consider one of these genetic tests:

Petri dish for tissue based prostate cancer marker

Prompt PGS

Using a cheek swab, this genetic test determines a man’s risk of prostate cancer by comparing his genetic profile and family history to thousands of men with prostate cancer.

Petri dish for tissue based prostate cancer marker

Myriad myRisk

This genetic test uses a saliva sample and analyzes genetic mutations associated with hereditary cancers, including 10 genetic mutations that are linked to prostate cancer.

Test vial for blood-based prostate cancer marker


With a blood or saliva sample, this genetic test analyzes 14 genes, including the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, to determine a man’s risk of developing hereditary prostate cancer.

Petri dish for tissue based prostate cancer marker

Ambry Score

Also known as polygenic risk score (PRS), this test screens for genetic variants associated with prostate cancer. It can be added on as a supplementary PCM to other genetic tests.

Based on the results of your prostate cancer marker tests at this waypoint in your prostate cancer journey, if you are considered low-risk, you and your physician will likely choose to repeat the PSA test in a year. If you are considered high risk, you may be a candidate for a prostate biopsy.

Waypoint 1 FAQs

Below is an initial list of frequently asked questions about prostate cancer risk, PSA screening and PCM tests relevant to this topic. If you don’t see your question posted, please submit it so that we can continue to grow our library of FAQs.

1. Are there any prostate cancer biomarker (PCM) tests that could help me decide if I need to have a prostate biopsy?

Although there are many factors that contribute to your healthcare provider’s decision to conduct a prostate biopsy, there are several urinary and blood based PCMs that may help guide you and your physician through the decision of conducting a prostate biopsy. These include:

Genetic tests also may be worth considering if you have a family history of prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer or colorectal cancer. These genetic tests are recommended for men who are determined through genetic counseling to be at potential risk for hereditary cancer:

2. What are prostate cancer biomarkers (PCMs)?

Prostate cancer biomarkers (PCMs) are molecules found in blood, tissue, or body fluids. PCMs are revolutionary new, non-invasive diagnostic tests that may help your healthcare provider decide if your prostate cancer is in fact low risk, if something more aggressive may be lurking in your prostate, or if there are hot spots in the prostate that may need to be re-evaluated upon biopsy. PCMs also can help you and your healthcare provider determine the most appropriate treatment for your cancer.

3. What prostate cancer biomarker test is right for me?

There are many factors that will make one prostate cancer marker test better suited for individual cases. Many times, individuals who have never had a biopsy or had low to intermediate grade prostate cancer (Gleason 3+3=6 or 3+4=7) diagnosed on a biopsy are well suited for blood or urine prostate cancer markers, whereas individuals who have persistently negative biopsies or a biopsy of intermediate to high grade cancer may benefit from tissue prostate cancer markers. Use this interactive questionnaire to see what tests may be right for you.  Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, discuss the results with your healthcare provider. Also be sure to check out our Patient Journey section that may help you decide which test is right for you.

4. Why should men consider additional testing beyond the PSA test?

The PSA test cannot differentiate between prostate cancer and non-cancerous (benign) conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Men who receive a PSA level above 1.5 ng/ML should discuss additional biomarker testing with their healthcare providers prior to considering a prostate biopsy.

Learn More

The PSA test for prostate cancer is just the first step in learning more about your risk. Below are additional insights.