By Bob Moos, Special to ETR
More than 2 million American men count themselves as prostate cancer survivors. Many have early detection and treatment to thank for their lives today.
Most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer don’t like to talk about it. I’ve learned that from friends and family who have been through it. From what I’ve seen, support groups for men fighting prostate cancer aren’t as common as those for other diseases.
One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his life. One in 36 will die of it. Other than skin cancer, it’s the most common cancer among American men. About 218,000 men in this country will be told sometime this year that they have prostate cancer.
The chance of getting prostate cancer goes up quickly after 50. Also, men with fathers or brothers who have had prostate cancer are more likely to get it themselves. And for reasons still unknown, prostate cancer is more prevalent among African-American men.
Because we haven’t pinpointed the exact cause of prostate cancer, most cases can’t be prevented. But research suggests men may be able to reduce their risk of prostate cancer by eating less red meat and fat and eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Some men have symptoms that may indicate prostate cancer – such as blood in their urine, a need to urinate frequently or a burning sensation while urinating. More often, though, possible signs of prostate cancer show up during a routine check-up.
The blood test is typically combined with a digital rectal exam, when the doctor examines the prostate for any irregular or firm areas. Although these two screenings can’t diagnose prostate cancer, they can signal the need for a biopsy to take tissue samples.
Medicare covers both the PSA test and the digital rectal exam once every 12 months. For more about how Medicare can help you take care of your health, visit www.medicare.gov and download “Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services” or call 1-800-MEDICARE and request a free copy.
Bob Moos is the Southwest public affairs officer, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services