September is National Prostate Health Month, also known as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. This means that it’s the perfect time to talk about issues concerning men’s prostate health and prostate cancer. Unfortunately, the most common risk factor for prostate cancer is age. And while this may not seem like great news, staying informed and taking an active role in your health can help you carry out the motto “long live life.” The ApexHealth team gives you the help you need for the life you lead, including these prostate health tips.
1. Be aware of risk factors and symptoms
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all men are at risk for prostate cancer, and as we said before, the most common risk factor is age. Additional risk factors to consider include if you are African American or if you have a family history of prostate cancer. It’s also important to be aware of symptoms for prostate cancer. The CDC says symptoms are different for everyone, but definitely see your doctor if you’re experiencing:
- Difficulty starting urination
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Difficulty completely emptying your bladder
- Pain or burning during urination
- Blood in your urine or semen
- Persistent pain in your back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away
- Painful ejaculation
And if you’re experiencing these symptoms, don’t get scared! They could be caused by other conditions, not prostate cancer. Making an appointment with your doctor is the best next step.
2. Get screened
Getting recommended screenings for cancers helps because they can find cancers early before they spread or find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if not treated. There are two tests that are used to screen for prostate cancer. The first is a blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test measures the level of PSA in the blood. The level of PSA in your blood can determine whether or not you have prostate cancer or other conditions that affect the prostate (such as an enlarged prostate). The other type of screening is a digital rectal exam.
3. Questions about prostate cancer screening or risk factors? Always ask your doctor
If you’re thinking about getting screened, have a conversation with your doctor. In this conversation, make sure you talk about:
- Your family history of prostate cancer
- Additional risk factors (e.g., if you’re African American)
- Medical conditions that could affect prostate cancer screening or treatment
- Any potential benefits or harms of prostate cancer screening, diagnosis or treatment
4. Eat healthy and stay active
Sticking with a healthy eating pattern and staying active are both great ways to help you live boldly, and they’re also great ways to support prostate health.
- Aim to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, especially leafy greens
- Opt for whole grain bread, pasta and cereal
- Limit red meat and processed meat and substitute with healthier sources of protein including fish, poultry, beans and eggs
- Ditch trans fats from fast food and processed food in favor of healthier fats such as avocado, nuts and oils
- Cut down on salt and avoid sugar-sweetened drinks
- Maintain a healthy weight and stay active for better prostate health and overall health
5. Understand Medicare coverage for prostate cancer screening
Original Medicare covers yearly PSA blood tests for all men over 50, starting the day after your 50th birthday. They also cover 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for yearly digital rectal exams and your doctor’s services, and the Part B deductible applies. Medicare Advantage plans will always cover the same services as Original Medicare, and specific coverage varies by plan. ApexHealth members with questions about coverage prostate cancer screenings can always ask an ApexAssistant.
For all matters related to your medical health, we recommend contacting your doctor or healthcare provider. Starting on Oct. 1, you’ll be able to reach out to our ApexAssistants about any questions related to ApexHealth, our Medicare Advantage plans or coverage for the upcoming plan year. Give us a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711). Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.