Prostate screening and awareness have been in the media and medical outreach over the last few decades. It was especially screening as it relates to Black men getting early screening as early as 40 years of age to get ahead of any potential cancer. But unfortunately, with all of the public service announcements, whether through churches, lodges, fraternities, or prostate awareness month, many Black men still do not get screened and still are the highest percentage of prostate cancer development in the United States. So the problem may NOT be due solely to lack of knowledge.
Black men both get and die from prostate cancer at a higher rate. The reasons are complex and not fully understood by many physicians and health specialists. Therefore, black men should be screened for prostate cancer more proactively.
Given the higher risk of developing prostate cancer and dying from the disease, Black men are more likely to be saved by screening. The main prostate cancer screening tests are a digital rectal exam, in which a doctor checks for swelling and inflammation, and a PSA test, which measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood.
PHEN(2022) promotes prostate health and education. This organization is an excellent follow-up for all men but particularly Black men. Respond (2022) is a prostate study in Black men to participate in. These studies may help to explain why prostate cancer in Black men may be more aggressive. Screening and awareness are essential drivers to getting prostate cancer under control.
Dr. Andrew Laccetti, oncologist of the MemorialSloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, 2022) says, “Overall, Black men may need earlier and more frequent screening than the general guidelines suggest.” Blackmen are 50% more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and twice as likely to die from the disease.
Dr. Vincent Laudone, MSK, explains that many factors can increase the risk and worsen the outcome of prostate cancer; it is not just simply being of African descent. Other crucial elements include age, family history, smoking, limited physical activity, and obesity.
In addition, higher risks may be related to social and environmental issues involving nutrition, healthcare access, and environmental pollutants. Other potential contributing factors may be disparities in outcomes affected by differences when the cancer is diagnosed and follow-up diagnosis. Often, prostate cancer in Black men may have biological characteristics associated with a more aggressive disease. Dr. Lacetti reports that “evidence suggests this is partly related to inherited genetic factors.”
In addition, differences in tumor biology may cause this cancer in Black men to progress faster. Chief of Urology Dr.James Eastham of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, 2022) says men with cancerous prostate changes have more treatment options now and in the future. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the U.S., especially for those over age 50. Most prostate cancers are not a problem because they grow slowly. Many men get prostate cancer if they live a long life, but they die of prostate cancer, not from it. So early screening is the key! The Narrative Matters!
AACR. (2022). Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. September Is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month | AACR
MSKCC.(2022).Prostate Cancer. Prostate Cancer | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (mskcc.org)
PHEN.(2022).Prostate Health Education Network. The Prostate Health Education Network: Prostate Health Education and AwarenessRespond.(2022).African American Prostate Study. How to Participate – RESPOND – African American Prostate Cancer Study (respondstudy.org)