Getting a prostate cancer screening isn’t always a top priority for men. But this preventative measure matters. Find out why you should request a prostate cancer screening during your next doctor’s visit.
Is Prostate Cancer Screening Covered by Medicare?
If you are male age 50 or above, you are covered for a free PSA screening once every 12 months. Medicare Part B offers these preventative service benefits for recipients. This means the visit itself won’t cost you anything as long as the doctor accepts Medicare. There are two types of screenings for prostate cancer. A blood test and a digital exam. The blood test does not cost anything because it is considered a preventative screening to help keep you well.
The digital exam may have a cost to it. You could pay up to 20% of what the Medicare-approved cost is. The part B deductible applies and when done outside the hospital, a co-payment is required. The exam is performed with less frequency than the blood test. The decision to get it depends on your individual circumstances and risk factors.
The Screening Process
A blood test is part of an annual wellness exam to screen for prostate cancer. But what is the test actually looking for and why would you need an exam? The blood test looks at the levels of prostate specific antigen or PSA which is produced by the prostate. If these levels are higher than normal, this could indicate prostate cancer. However, age and race do play a role in PSA levels. Other factors that can cause a high PSA level include:
- An enlarged prostate
- Medications taken
- Infection in the prostate
- Medical procedures
With a digital rectal exam or DRE, the doctor will physically check the prostate for enlargement or any abnormalities. Both tests have risks, which is why a PSA test is more common. If levels are high, the doctor may look at contributing factors before going further since false positive PSA levels can occur.
If the results are abnormal after taking a PSA test or getting a DRE, your doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy to confirm whether prostate cancer is the cause.
The benefit of screening for prostate cancer is to find it and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body. Many types of prostate cancer do grow slowly and do not show symptoms. The most common way to treat prostate cancer is regular testing and treating it only if it causes symptoms. Doctors commonly take this approach because treating prostate cancer with radiation therapy or having surgery may cause problems like impotence.
Who Needs a Screening?
The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. Men aged 65+ are at an increased risk of getting prostate cancer. African-American men, in particular, have a higher chance of getting prostate cancer at a younger age and for it to be more advanced when detected.
A man who has a history of prostate cancer in his family or got it when he was under 55 are at increased risk for prostate cancer. If other members of a family have cancer, the chances of prostate cancer may increase.
Medicare covers a PSA test as part of its annual wellness visit. While it is up to you and your doctor as to whether you want to screen for prostate cancer, a screening may be beneficial depending on individual risk factors.
To find out more about the benefits Medicare offers, contact BroadZero. Our Medicare experts will help you find the right plan to stay healthy.