Early prostate cancer usually doesn’t cause symptoms, regular screenings can be important.
Screenings for prostate cancer include a digital rectal exam and a blood test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. While the PSA test can’t tell if you have prostate cancer, it can show an elevated PSA level and indicate the need for a biopsy to check for cancer.
Anyone with a prostate can get prostate cancer. But the risk is higher if you:
• Are African American
• Have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65
• Carrying a gene change such as BRCA1
Talk with your doctor, together you can decide if /when a screening if right for you.
1 American Cancer Society. Prostate cancer risk factors. June 9, 2020. Accessed April 2022.
Breast cancer screening
Screening mammograms are considered the international gold standard for detecting breast cancer early. Mammograms can usually find lumps two or three years before they are felt. Talk to your doctor about your personal risk for breast cancer and when to start a breast cancer screening. Remember, people of all genders can get breast cancer.
It’s also important to talk to your doctor right away about any changes in your breasts, including:
- Nipple pain
- Inverted nipple
- Nipple discharge
- Sores on the nipple and/or areola area
- Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm
For more information, visit the Breastcancer.org.
The benefits of regular health screenings and check-ups:
- Peace of mind
- Identifying / preventing issues early on
- Can get tests run regularly
- Can build a rapport with your doctor
- Cancer prevention (gynecology-specific)
Catching health issues early before they get too bad can save your life. Call your doctor to schedule your screening or call us to help you find a provider at 1-800-638-8432 (TTY: 711).
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. For more information, visit the US Preventive Services website.
Wellness in later years
Menopause and your health
You can start to experience menopause generally at age 45 and older. Some health conditions are linked to changes in hormone levels such as osteoporosis and heart disease as indicated in the information found at medlineplus.gov.
A bone density test can detect early signs of osteoporosis. Check with your provider about scheduling a screening procedure. They can help maintain or improve your bone health.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and it is the number one cause for women. Heart disease is also linked to uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Colorectal cancer screening
It is recommended to start regular screenings at age 45; and more often for individuals with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, inflammatory bowel disease or previous abdominal or pelvic radiation treatment. Talk to your doctor about test options.
Skin Cancer Screening
Have your doctor check your skin once a year during your annual exam, mentioning any suspicious skin growths or changes.
Know the ABCDEs of early detection
- Asymmetry: One half doesn’t match the other half.
- Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
- Color: Pigmentation is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue add to the mottled appearance.
- Diameter: Size of the mole is greater than 6 mm (0.25 in.), or about the size of a pencil eraser.
- Evolution: Change in the size, shape, symptoms (such as itching or tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or color.
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is categorized by Stages 1 – 5, depending on how much kidney function is present. Stage 1 is mild kidney damage, progressing to Stage 5 which is kidney failure. If you have risk factors for CKD, or any of the symptoms, talk to your doctor about your kidney health and your personal risk for developing CKD:
Main Risk Factors for Kidney Disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Family history of kidney disease
Symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD)
- Weight loss or poor appetite
- Frequent urination
- Swollen ankles, feet or hands
- Difficulty sleeping
- Itchy skin
- Shortness of breath
Reference: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease
Lung cancer screening
Ask your doctor about getting screened for lung cancer if all of these apply to you:
- You are age 55 to 80.
- You have a history of heavy smoking for 20+ years.
- You smoke now, or you quit within the last 15 years.
Urine drug testing and screening
We may cover urine drug testing and screening. Coverage is applied when tests/screenings are conducted for medical purposes related to the evaluation of patients being treated with controlled substances for non-cancer-related chronic pain. These requirements don’t apply when urine drug testing or screening is performed:
- as part of an emergency room or urgent care center visit
- during an observation or inpatient hospital stay
Drug testing is defined as either presumptive (qualitative) or definitive (quantitative). A presumptive test confirms if a substance (analyte) is present in the specimen. A definitive test measures how much (the quantity) of an analyte is present.
Presumptive (qualitative) testing
For presumptive drug testing, the Rural Carrier Benefit Plan allows one encounter per day up to eight (8) encounters per 12 month period. These are applicable codes for the presumptive drug tests:
Definitive (quantitative) testing
Definitive testing is only covered if the presumptive testing indicates a positive result for the drug. The Rural Carrier Benefit Plan allows one encounter per day up to eight (8) encounters per 12 month period. These are the applicable codes for the definitive drug tests:
If you have any questions about this policy, please contact us at 1-800-638-8432 (TTY:711).
CPT® is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association. 2022 All rights reserved.
Hepatitis C testing
If your age is between 18 to 79 it is recommended you get a blood test for hepatitis C at least once. Talk to your doctor about getting tested for hepatitis C.
Low back pain
Most low back pain will improve with rest, modified activity and over-the-counter pain medicine as needed. Consult with your doctor for the best treatment for you.
How to keep your muscles healthy
One of the most important ways to protect and support your muscles is to stretch regularly. Doing so allows you to move more easily and freely, whether you’re walking, running, biking or playing a sport.
How stretching helps
Regular stretching can improve your flexibility, which in turn can:
- Decrease cramping and muscle soreness.
- Help your joints move through their full range of motion.
- Enhance your performance in physical activities.
Stretch it out
Stretching isn’t just a warm-up or cool-down exercise. It can be done anytime and anywhere.
Before and after exercise
Stretching helps prepare your body for exercise and assists the recovery process. It can also help improve your joint range of motion as well as reduce stress.
Try these simple leg stretches if you can
Front thigh stretch
- Stand next to a wall or use a chair for support. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart.
- Bend one knee so that your foot goes up toward your buttocks.
- Grab your ankle and pull it toward your buttocks as far as you can.
- Hold the stretch for 15–30 seconds.
- Stand and place your hands on a wall. Move one foot back as far as you can comfortably.
- Your toes should be facing forward, heels flat, with a bend in your knees.
- Lean into the stretch. You should feel the stretch in your back leg.
- Hold the stretch for 15–30 seconds. Repeat 2–4 times for each leg.
Talk to your doctor about safe ways for you to stretch and keep your muscles healthy.
Sexually transmitted infection, or STI testing can help find problems early so that treatment can begin quickly to prevent complications and further spread. Speak to your doctor about your need for your personal risk assessment as STD testing will vary.
Know your numbers
|SYSTOLIC mmHg (UPPER NUMBER)
|DIASTOLIC mmHg (LOWER NUMBER)
|Less than 120
|Less than 80
|Less than 80
|Hypertension Stage 1
|Hypertension Stage 2
|140 or higher
|90 or higher
- The systolic number shows how hard the blood pushes when the heart is pumping.
- The diastolic number shows how hard the blood pushes between heartbeats, when the heart is at rest.
Unmonitored blood pressure may cause damage to your blood vessels which increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, vision loss and kidney problems.
Cholesterol and heart disease
Know your numbers
Cholesterol is carried through the blood stream by two types of proteins called lipoproteins.
- low-density lipoprotein, or LDL – often called “bad” cholesterol
- Too much of it in the blood builds-up on the artery walls as plaque, blocking the arteries and reducing blood flow to the heart and other organs.
- high-density lipoprotein or HDL – also known as “good” cholesterol
- HDL grabs hold of the “bad” LDL cholesterol and carries it back to the liver where it’s flushed from the body.
There are different ways to lower your cholesterol:
- Diet – eat less fatty, sugary, high cholesterol foods.
- Exercise – helps maintain heart health and prevent or tackle obesity.
- Medications – there are several types of cholesterol lowering medications, statins can also reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke.
- Schedule an in person or telehealth visit with your doctor to discuss statin medications and side effects.
- Take advantage of your benefits by speaking to a Registered Dietician with the Aetna Care Management Program.
- Visit the American Heart Association website and use their calculator to learn about your risks for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Diabetes – living well
Type 1 – About 1.6 million Americans, including 200,000 under 20 years old, have type I diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease in which the body doesn’t produce insulin. It currently can’t be prevented and there is no cure. People with type 1 diabetes are dependent on taking outside insulin since their body doesn’t make its own.
Type 2 – Over 30 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. Their body makes insulin but doesn’t use it properly, leading to unstable blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by mitigating risk factors including:
- Family history
- Being overweight
- Having an inactive lifestyle
- Being over the age of 45
- Having a history of gestational diabetes
Control is key
Controlling diabetes requires maintaining your blood glucose level. Some complications of diabetes, Type 1 or 2, include:
- heart disease and stroke
- high blood pressure
- kidney disease
- nerve damage
- digestive problems
- vision loss
Our nurses are here to help
You can talk with a RCBP registered nurse care manager who will help connect you to resources, provide education and help with developing a diabetes management plan.
Earn a Healthy Action incentive for controlling your blood glucose level.
We Can Help
Earn a Healthy Action Incentive for controlling your blood pressure:
- Wellness Rewards page of the website
- section 5(h) of the Official Plan brochure
View the Official Plan Brochure for details about RCBP health benefits plans