Jun 04, 2020

Be a “wise guy”— know the importance of health screenings

Are you a guy who puts off doing a task and later wishes he’d just done it? Take care of your body. If you’re a man with Medicare, ask your doctor if you should get tested for prostate cancercolorectal cancer, or both. Getting screened is the smart move—screening tests can find cancer early, when treatment works best.

Don’t use cost as an excuse to avoid screenings. Medicare covers a digital rectal exam and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test once every 12 months for men 50 or over. Also, Medicare covers a variety of colorectal cancer screenings—like the fecal occult blood testflexible sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy—and you pay nothing for most tests.

If you’re curious about when to get cancer screenings, keep this in mind: prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States; it’s second only to lung cancer in the number of cancer deaths. About 13% of American men will get prostate cancer during their lifetime. Also, you’re at a higher risk for getting prostate cancer if you’re 50 or older, are African-American, or have a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer.

Colorectal cancer is also common among men—of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. If everyone 50 to 75 got screened regularly, we could avoid as many as 60% of deaths from this cancer.

In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Fortunately, screening tests can find these polyps, so you can get them removed before they turn into cancer.

June is Men’s Health Month. Be a wise guy—don’t underestimate the importance of health screenings.  Get screened for prostate and colorectal cancer. Visit the Men’s Health Month website for more information.