Acid phosphatase is an enzyme found within the human body - primarily in the prostate gland. The enzyme is an essential requirement to trigger any specific chemical reactions within the body. An acid phosphate test is primarily performed in order to diagnose if prostate cancer has spread to any other parts of the body. This is mainly because the enzyme is found in increased amounts in men who are afflicted by prostate cancer. The highest levels of acid phosphate are found in conditions of metastasized prostate cancer. Other conditions that are also characterized by the increased levels of acid phosphatase include hyperthyroidism, blood cell diseases as well as Gaucher’s disease. Normal levels of acid phosphatase in the human body are measured between 0 to 0.8 units per liter and anything above these levels could also be an indicator of a decreased blood flow to the prostate gland, anemia, kidney disease and prostatitis in addition to the previously mentioned conditions as well as many others.
An acid phosphatase test is used primarily to identify the level to which prostate cancer has progressed. When the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, the acid phosphatase levels rise. This is especially true if the cancer reaches the bones. On removal or reduction of the tumor, the acid phosphatase levels will fall. Acid phosphatase tests are also commonly performed on rape investigations because of the fact that it is very concentrated in semen. It is important to understand that this test does not help identify the risk you are faced with in developing prostate cancer as it will only show significant readings after the condition has already developed within the body.
When conducting an acid phosphatase test, some amount of blood will be drawn from the patient via a vein in the arms. The tests carried out in the laboratory will be able to establish the exact tissue from which the enzyme is received. This helps establish whether the increased levels of acid phosphatase are emitted by the red blood cells or the prostate gland.
Preparation for an acid phosphatase test means the patient should avoid going through a either a rectal exam or prostate massage about two or three days prior to the actual test. It is not uncommon for a patient to experience some degree of fainting or dizziness just after the test. The application of warm packs to the puncture site will help relieve any discomfort being experienced.