Prostate Cancer Disparities: What African-American Men Need to Know

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 9:26am

The numbers don’t lie. Approximately 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their life, and 1 in 36 will die as a result of the disease. Unfortunately, these statistics are even worse when it comes to a specific group of men in this country.

African-American men are one and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and are more than twice as likely to die from the disease. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and a perfect time to address prostate cancer disparity and what we can do about it.

There has been some research into whether genetics play a role in this disparity, as well as lack of resources and means. Although we can’t pinpoint one specific reason as to why these rates are higher for African-American, we do know this — the numbers are unacceptable. African-American men are being under-diagnosed and under-treated.

So, how can we change this? African-American men, especially over the age of 40, need to take control of their prostate health by visiting their doctor and having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test done on a regular basis. I can’t stress enough the importance of early detection, particularly if you are an individual at high risk for developing prostate cancer.

Women can play a very important role in decreasing this number. If you are a wife, daughter, sister, girlfriend, etc., please encourage your loved one to undergo a screening. Hold the men in your life responsible. Make sure they know their PSA scores and have an idea of their general health.