Prostate cancer expert, Dr. Rana McKay, explains the difference between PSA blood levels and a Gleason score and discusses how these measurements impact prostate cancer care.
We received a patient question prior to the program. What is the difference between my PSA level and Gleason score?
Dr. Rana McKay:
Yeah. So, very good question. So, Gleason score is something that is determined based off a pathologic assessment. So, it’s basically, you know, a biopsy is done from the prostate or the – the surgical specimen from the removal of the prostate is looked at under the microscope and a Gleason score is based off what something looks like underneath a microscope and ideally, a Gleason score is given really only for the prostate – for tissue derived from the prostate.
So, if somebody has a bone biopsy for example or a lymph node biopsy, they’re not going to necessarily get a glycine score per se. It’s been – been validated from the prostate itself and ideally, also, an untreated prostate. So, if somebody has you know had radiation therapy and then has a biopsy, the Gleason score there is – there should not necessarily be a notation of what a Gleason score is. It’s really an untreated prostate. Now PSA is prostate-specific antigen, and it’s a protein that’s made from the prostate gland, and it’s found in circulation. PSA doesn’t hurt any – the actual, you know, molecule itself is – is innocuous. It doesn’t hurt anything. It’s just a marker of, sometimes can be a marker of burden of disease in prostate cancer, and I think sometimes we as clinicians do, you know, you know a disservice to some patients because I think we fixate – we can fixate a lot on PSA.
But PSA is not the whole story, and it’s one factor of several factors that we take into account in determining whether someone needs treatment or whether a treatment is working or not working.