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PSA Screenings: When Should You Start?

The American Cancer Society estimates that one in six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. As part of a yearly check up you may be asked to take a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, which examines PSA protein in the blood. As one of the quicker testing methods, all it takes is a blood sample—the results are available in 15 minutes. A PSA level of 4.0 ng/mL or lower is considered normal. Anything higher should be discussed with your physician.

While many individuals understand that PSA screenings are important, many are unaware of when they should start. The American Cancer Society recommends healthy men discuss the benefits and risks of taking the screening. In general, men should start screenings around age 50, while those who show symptoms or are at a higher risk should start receiving testing around age 45. The American Urological Association released a flowchart that can help you determine when and how often you should be screened.

Signs you may be at a greater risk for prostate cancer include:

  • Medical history – If close family members (i.e. brothers and father) were diagnosed with prostate cancer before they reached 65, you may be at greater risk than other men.
  • Race – For reasons unknown, African American men are at a greater risk for prostate cancer. Research shows that about one in five African American men is diagnosed with the illness.
  • Age – As you age, the risk of prostate cancer increases. Many of the men diagnosed with the cancer are aged 65 or older.

Currently, Medicare offers coverage for annual PSA screenings for eligible individuals aged 50 or older. Other private insurance companies also include the test in their health coverage packages. At Alaska Medical Specialties, we prioritize our patients’ health. If you are unsure of when you should go through a PSA screening, contact one of our talented physicians today.