Men’s health awareness should include cancer screenings


June is Men’s Health Awareness month—a time to remember that keeping tabs on your health can pay long-term dividends.

Cancer screenings can play an important role in health awareness, particularly for those at risk of certain types of cancer, because catching and treating cancer in its early stages improves the prognosis for remission and long-term survival.

This is particularly true for lung cancer patients.

For example, in lung cancer patients, those who have stage 1 cancer experience a 45-49 percent five-year survival rate—that is, 45-49 percent of patients are still alive five years following treatment. That compares to a 5-14 percent five-year survival rate for stage 3 and a 1 percent five-year survival rate for those with Stage 4 lung cancer. That’s according to statistics from National Cancer Institute.

Lung screenings are now covered by Medicare as well as state and private insurers for those at high risk for lung cancer. Medicare, for example, pays for the test for those between ages 55 and 77 who’ve smoked 30 pack-years—or the number of cigarettes smoked per day divided by 20 (1 pack has 20 cigarettes)—as well as those who currently smoke or quit smoking within the past 15 years.

Provision Diagnostic Imaging offers lung screenings, a low dose CT scan that would cost $300-$500 without health insurance reimbursement. Call (865) 684-2600 to schedule a lung screening.

Unlike lung cancer, prostate cancer has a much higher survivability rate—but it affects a much higher percentage of the population. Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer. In 2015, there will be an estimated 220,800 new cases diagnosed in the U.S., and approximately 14 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate in their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Those at higher risk for the disease should consult with their healthcare provider about being screened for prostate cancer as early detection can improve long-term outcomes. These include men 50-years-old or more, African American men, men 45-years-old or older with a first-degree relative (father, brother or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65 and men 40-years-old or older with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer before age 65

Screening options include: 1) a digital rectal exam, conducted by the physician to determine the size of the prostate and feel for tumors; 2) a test measuring levels of prostate specific antigen, or PSA, in the blood. And elevated PSA test can indicate the presence of cancer but also noncancerous conditions such as prostatitis and 3) a biopsy, depending on the outcome of other tests.

Locally, the Provision CARES Foundation supports EddieCheck, which offers free PSA screenings to men over 40 every September. Stay tuned for more info on when and where to get your free PSA test through EddieCheck!