The relationship between prostate volume and prostate-specific antigen variability: data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging and the Johns Hopkins Active Surveillance Program

BJU Int. 2012 May;109(9):1304-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10663.x. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


Study Type--Prognostic (cohort). Level of Evidence 2b. What's known on the subject? And what does the study add? Previous studies have attempted to characterize the normal biological variability in PSA among men without prostate cancer. These reports suggest that PSA variability is unrelated to age, but there are conflicting data on its association with the baseline PSA level. There are limited published data regarding the effects of prostate volume on PSA variability. A prior study assessing whether prostate volume changes would confound the use of PSA velocity in clinical practice reported that prostate volume changes were not significantly related to PSA changes. This study did not directly address the effect of baseline prostate volume on serial PSA variability. The objective of the current study was to further examine the relationship between prostate volume and PSA variability. Our hypothesis was that larger baseline prostate volume would be associated with increased PSA variability in men without known prostate cancer and in those with suspected small-volume disease. The results of the study suggest that baseline PSA, not prostate volume, is the primary driver of PSA variability in these populations.

Objective: • To clarify the relationship between serial prostate-specific antigen (PSA) variability and prostate volume in both cancer-free participants from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) and patients with low-risk prostate cancer from the Johns Hopkins Active Surveillance Program (AS).

Materials and methods: • In all, 287 men from the BLSA and 131 patients from the AS were included in the analysis, all with at least two PSA measurements and concurrent prostate volume measurements. • PSA variability was calculated in ng/mL per year, and a linear mixed-effects model was used to determine the relative effects of prostate volume, baseline PSA and age on PSA change over time.

Results: • In a model with prostate volume, age and baseline PSA, there was no significant relationship between prostate volume and PSA variability (BLSA, P= 0.57; AS, P= 0.49). • Only baseline PSA showed a significant relationship to PSA yearly variability (PSAYV) (P < 0.001). Specifically, a one unit higher baseline PSA (ng/mL) corresponded on average to 0.09 and 0.06 ng/mL per year higher PSAYV in the BLSA and AS populations, respectively.

Conclusions: • The results of the present study suggest that the primary driver of PSA variability is the baseline PSA level, rather than prostate volume. • Clinicians might consider the baseline PSA level to help predict the expected variability in serial PSA measurements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Reference Values


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen