Special tests

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a glycoprotein, responsible for liquefying semen in vivo. As a tumour marker it is used to aid in the diagnosis and also monitor treatment of prostate cancer. It should be remembered that the 'normal range' for PSA varies with age and that PSA levels can also be effected by other conditions, such as urinary tract infection (UTI). The widespread use of PSA testing as part of a process of prostate cancer screening (particularly in the USA) has significantly reduced the proportion of patients diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer. In the UK, however, the use of PSA for screening remains controversial.

The tumour markers alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) and beta-human chorionic gonadotrophin (p-HCG) are used to monitor treatment of testicular germ cell tumours. An elevated AFP implies the presence of non-seminomatous elements in the tumour.

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