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Doc, do I have prostate cancer?

Know the signs; get tested.

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Dear doctor, 

I’m 66 years old and all of a sudden have problems when I pee. Sometimes it hurts and other times I need to pee more often. 

A friend of mine had the same problems and was told he had prostate cancer. Could I have prostate cancer? And what is the prostate for anyway?

Sincerely,

Paul

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Schedule your Annual Wellness Visit.

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Talk to your doctor about needed tests.

Find care in your state

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Dear Paul,

I’m glad you’re looking into the problems you’re having. 

The problems you’re having could be related to prostate cancer, but they could also be something else. The only way to know for sure is to talk with your doctor.

The prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut. It makes some of the fluid that is part of semen. It is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. 

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control. 

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As a man ages, the prostate tends to grow bigger. This can squeeze the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen. When that happens, it can be harder to empty your bladder. Some of these changes are due to other problems and not cancer.

About 13 out of every 100 American men will get prostate cancer. About two to three of those same men will die from prostate cancer.  

The older you are, the greater your chances of getting prostate cancer. Black men or men with a family history of prostate cancer also have higher chances.

More advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause:

  • Problems peeing, including a slow or weak stream or the need to pee more often, especially at night
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Trouble getting an erection
  • Pain in the hips, back, chest or other areas; this may be from cancer that has spread to the bones
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord

Most of these problems are more likely to be caused by something else, not prostate cancer. Still, it’s important to tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. Then the cause can be found and you can get the care you need. 

Talk to your doctor about being tested for prostate cancer. You may need to get a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or a digital rectal exam.

Early prostate cancer usually doesn't cause symptoms. More advanced cancers are sometimes found because of symptoms they cause. Your doctor might order more tests, based on your symptoms or screening tests.

Stay healthy and stay strong, 

Joshua Jacobs, MD, FAAFP
National Medical Director, Provider Intelligence
Clinical Performance, Optum Care 

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Will Medicare cover an Annual Wellness Visit?

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Original Medicare covers the Annual Wellness Visit at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you get the service from a provider who accepts Medicare. You pay nothing (no deductible or coinsurance).

Medicare Advantage plans must cover Annual Wellness Visits without applying deductibles, copays, or coinsurance when you see a network provider and meet Medicare’s rules for the service.

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Source:

  • The American Cancer Society
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.