4 Facts, and Lifesavers, About Prostate Cancer and African-American Men

April 16, 2019

All Americans should be given equal opportunities to pursue their best lives, and that includes being cancer-free. For many African-America men, we still have ground to cover.

As we observe National Minority Cancer Awareness week, we are reminded that African-American men are still 76% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than white men, and they are 2.2 times more likely to die from it. (Prostate Cancer Foundation)

Some important prostate cancer facts:

  • 174,650 of American men are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019.
  • The average age of diagnosis is 66, but because African-American men are considered at high risk, they should begin getting tested at age 45. 
  • The prostate cancer survival rate is fortunately improving among African-American men. It’s now 97% over a five-year period. When the disease is caught early, the rate rises to nearly 100%.
  • Screenings make a difference. A recent study from the University of Gothenburg concludes that prostate-specific antigen tests (PSA blood tests) reduce prostate cancer deaths by nearly 30%.

Whether or not genetics contribute to prostate cancer in African-American men is being explored. The National Institutes of Health and the Prostate Cancer Foundation in July 2018 launched a $26.5 million study to research the biological and non-biological factors. 

Environmental conditions, such as socioeconomic status, do contribute, according to ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of the disease. According to ZERO, African-American men also may be less aware of the PSA screening option. 

 

These cancer-prevention tips could help all men, regardless of race: 

  • Think before you eat. A healthy weight is essential for cancer prevention and overall wellness, but the kinds of foods we eat matter, too. Men should get 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruit daily–they are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, which improve immunity. 
  • Live strong. Research has shown that men who exercise regularly have a slightly lower risk of developing prostate cancer, and chances improve with vigorous exercise. Regular exercise also strengthens bones, which is important for men taking hormone treatment for prostate cancer, which can contribute to osteoporosis. 
  • Know your family history. Men who have a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease, regardless of race. They should get tested at age 40.
  • Most important, get screened. All men should be regularly screened and consider a PSA blood test, combined with a digital rectal exam. Cancerous prostate cells tend to produce more prostate-specific antigens, so men with prostate cancer usually have high PSA levels.

To learn more about prostate cancer, prevention and PSA screening options, visit our web page dedicated to the disease here.

 

To take a quiz to determine risks, visit the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s National Minority Health Month page.

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