Prostate health is a major concern for men of all ages, but it’s especially important for seniors. The prostate gland is prone to cancer development with age, but thankfully, early detection methods have provided medical professionals with a wider range of treatment options. One of the most common tests for prostate cancer is the prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA test. This type of test analyzes a blood sample to check for certain protein levels that may signify the development of prostate cancer. Because this test is fairly sensitive, it can detect small amounts of protein, allowing for earlier detection and treatment.
Does Medicare Cover a PSA Test?
Because older men are at a greater risk of developing prostate cancer and other prostate-related conditions, men are encouraged to seek out screening annually once the age of 50 has been reached. With this stated, men need to work with their doctors to determine their risk level for the development of prostate problems to determine a screening schedule that speaks to each man’s unique situation.
The good news for Medicare recipients is that the program does provide coverage for PSA tests and other screenings, including an annual digital rectal exam. These tests are generally covered under Medicare benefits outlined in Part B as they are outpatient in nature. If a PSA test is administered while in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, it may be covered by Medicare benefits under Part A instead. Medicare Part D covers prescription medications, so if drugs are prescribed in the course of treatment for prostate cancer or related prostate conditions, this part of Medicare would apply.
Irregular PSA Test Results
It’s important to keep in mind that a PSA test is used simply to check for levels of proteins, and this means that an irregular test result will not be enough to justify a diagnosis of cancer. There are other reasons for proteins levels to be irregular, including changes in ejaculation frequency, benign prostate hyperplasia and prostatitis. If cancer is suspected, your doctor will likely require additional testing, possibly up to and including a prostate biopsy. This requires a small piece of tissue to be removed from the prostate gland in order to be further analyzed in a lab.
Practice Prostate Care
Although the prostate is known to grow as men age with no known cause, there are some things you can do to care for your prostate. Current research suggests that eating fruits and vegetables more often may help, especially when these foods are rich in anti-oxidants. Additionally, frequent bathroom breaks can help to relieve pressure and discomfort in the prostate. Ensuring that you are active on a daily basis is also believed to help the prostate by reducing strain and increasing blood flow.
Finally, some medications may be needed to help the prostate retain an optimal size. Some of these are found in multi-vitamin and supplement form, but others may require a prescription. Before taking any type of medication or supplement, discuss the specifics of your healthcare needs with your doctor. You should also discuss your health with your doctor before changing your diet or before beginning any type of new exercise regimen.