Men’s Health: Medicare & Prostate Cancer Screenings

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. 

Prostate Cancer

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:

prostate with a red tumor on it and green viruses around it
Malignant growths on the prostate can be life threatening.
  • 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. 

Risk Factors

  • 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
  • Smoking 
  • Drinking alcohol 
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Hormonal changes

Warning Signs Of Prostate Cancer

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

    illustration of a man holding his lower back while hunched over
    Pain in the lower back is a warning sign of prostate cancer.

Other signs of prostate cancer include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Pain in the lower back, hips, or thighs
  • Anemia
  • 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 Coverage

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. 
  • blood sample being put on a test

    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.

Can More Sex Lower Your Risk Of Prostate Cancer?

For American men, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer, and the second most deadly. It is worse for African American men compared to Caucasian men, and any other men of color. There are treatments that can reduce the risk of death from prostate cancer, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. However, having more

Blue ribbon placed on top of a folded white collared shirt for prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer, and the second most deadly.

sex is a major way that a man can reduce his risk of prostate cancer. It does not necessarily mean sex with a partner, masturbation works as well. The main goal is to ejaculate more often.

The Studies

In 1992, a study conducted by Harvard University gathered information from 32,000 men between the ages of 46 and 81. The men were asked about their average number of ejaculations experienced each month during young adulthood (ages 20-29), middle-age (ages 40-49), and the most recent year. The men provided their ejaculation number every two years until the study was over in 2010. The outcome was that a high ejaculation frequency was linked to a lowered risk of prostate cancer. Men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month had a 31% lower risk of prostate cancer. 

Australian researchers conducted the same study of 2,338 men, researching the impact of ejaculations on prostate cancer before the age of 70. The Australian data supported the American findings; men who ejaculated more frequently had a reduced risk of prostate cancer. An average of 4.6–7 ejaculations a week produced a 36% reduced chance of developing prostate cancer before the age of 70 than men who ejaculated fewer than 2.3 times a week.

The Theory

Two sets of feet on a bed intertwined under a sheet.
Researchers have shown there to be a connection between frequent ejaculation and the reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Even with all the data, this theory is still controversial, and doctors cannot stand behind its efficacy. However, they do know there is a connection between frequent ejaculation and the reduced risk of prostate cancer. Researchers believe that the more you release the fluids in your prostate, the lesser your risk of developing prostate cancer. If your fluids sit there and accumulate over time, then the prostate will have a higher chance of carrying potential carcinogens,  initiating tumor growth.

Regular sexual activity has many health benefits, such as reducing stress, and even reducing inflammatory factors circulating in your body. Although the connection between the two is not strong enough yet, the findings support healthy sexual activity. It does not hurt to add more sex (with your partner), or masturbation to your schedule. It actually offers great benefits, including an extra preventative measure from prostate cancer. Orgasms are more than just a great feeling, they provide many health benefits!

Although sex is thought to be a preventative measure, it is not enough. Make sure to eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, and exercise regularly. Do not forget to schedule your routine prostate exams, especially if you are at high risk for prostate cancer.