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.