Tag Archive for: PSA blood levels

PSA vs Gleason Score | What’s the Difference?

PSA vs Gleason Score | What’s the Difference? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

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.

Dr. Rana McKay is a medical oncologist at UC San Diego Health and an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Learn more about Dr. McKay, here.

Related Resources:

Managing the Side Effects of Advanced Prostate Cancer Treatment

Tools for Choosing the Right Prostate Cancer Treatment Approach


Katherine Banwell:

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.