It’s a scary statistic, but every 15 minutes, an American man dies from prostate cancer. According to cancer.org, approximately 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. That means, for every 8 men you know in your life, 1 could be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and that likelihood goes up the older they are. The average age for diagnosis is 66, with around 6 cases of prostate cancer in 10 being diagnosed in men who are 65 or older. June is National Men’s Health Month, so take this opportunity to learn more about prostate cancer, and get screened when it is recommended by Medicare! Medicare will cover prostate cancer screenings, as long as you follow the guidelines.
The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but it occurs when the prostate gland, which is below the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum, grows at an abnormal rate or to an abnormal size. There are 2 types of growth:
- Benign growths- the prostate gland grows to squeeze the urethra, which it surrounds. These growths are usually noncancerous and rarely a threat.
- Malignant growths– Cancerous growths that are life threatening.
A biopsy is required to determine which type of growth it is. 8 out of 10 tumors are found to be small and harmless, but if the growth is cancerous, the cells can begin to grow out of control and spread to other organs.
- Age over 55 (peak age 65-74) years
- Ethnicity: prostate cancer is more common in African Americans
- Genetic/family history
- Poor diet containing high amounts of fat
- Drinking alcohol
- Lack of exercise
- Hormonal changes
There are a number of different symptoms of prostate cancer. The 5 main warning signs include:
- Bone pain
- Compression of the spine
- Painful urination
- Erectile dysfunction
- Blood in urine or semen
Other signs of prostate cancer include:
- Frequent urination
- Loss of bladder control
- Pain in the lower back, hips, or thighs
- Loss of bowel control
Diagnosis & Treatment
The word cancer itself is scary, but if prostate cancer is diagnosed early, most men can expect to live a normal life. Screening is the best way to detect prostate cancer, and is recommended for men who:
- Are between 55 and 69 years of age
- Are African American
- Have a family history of prostate cancer
If cancerous cells or tumors are found, treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer, the age of the patient and their overall health. In the earlier stages, doctors will monitor the cells closely; for more advanced stages, treatment includes:
- Surgery to remove the prostate gland
- Radiation therapy
- Cryotherapy to freeze and kill the cancerous cells
- Drug therapy such as chemotherapy, which spreads throughout the body and destroys cancer cells.
Medicare will cover prostate cancer screenings every 12 months for men 50 and older. There are 2 types of exams:
- Digital rectal exam – the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum.
PSA blood test – measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood.
Original Medicare will pay 80% of the yearly digital rectal exam, and 100% of the cost of the PSA blood test. Medicare will cover both inpatient and outpatient cancer treatment; Medicare Part A will fully cover inpatient hospital visits, but Medicare Part B will only cover 80% of costs for outpatient treatment. In order to get full coverage, you will need a Medicare Supplement Plan.
Most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer will survive, as long as they catch it early on with annual screenings. If you are interested in a Medicare Supplement Plan to help pay for the cost of annual screenings and any treatments needed, EZ can compare plans in minutes for you. Our licensed agents will go over your needs and budget and find the plan that checks all of your boxes. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to an agent, call 888-753-7207.