Prostate Cancer and African American Men

June 5, 2017 1:40 pm Published by

Why is it that Black men are more likely to develop and die from prostate cancer than other ethnic groups? Is more aggressive and earlier screening needed?

To begin with let’s look at prostate cancer statistics in the United States as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The graph below shows the incidence rate of how many men out of 100,000 got prostate cancer each year during the years 1999–2013. The graph shows that in 2013, black men (red) had the highest rate of getting prostate cancer, followed by white, and Hispanic men.

prostate cancer race ethnicity
Sources: CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program. *Rates are the number of cases per 100,000 persons and are age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population (19 age groups – Census P25–1130). For more information, see the USCS technical notes.

Prostate Cancer Death Rates Race Ethnicity
The second graph (above) shows the prostate cancer death rate by race and ethnicity during the same time period. With regards to ethnicity, a clear picture of incidence and mortality from prostate cancer is shown in this graph. This graph above shows that in 2013, black men were more likely to die of prostate cancer than any other group, followed by white and then Hispanic men.

I’m often asked by my patients, what causes the disparity? While we don’t precisely know, most prostate cancer specialists believe that a combination of biologic, environmental and socioeconomic factors contribute to the disparities of the incidence and mortality of this disease.

What we do know is that the following factors account for most prostate cancers:

  • Family History
  • Age
  • Race and Ethnicity

We know men with a first-degree relative (brother or father) with prostate cancer are more than two-and-a-half times as likely to develop the disease as a man with no affected family members.

We know that black men may develop prostate cancer at an earlier age often with a higher PSA levels than white men. Black men tend to be diagnosed with a more aggressive prostate cancer than white men. It is theorized that there are may be racial differences in the expression of genes involved with aggressive cancer development.

We believe from some studies that the risk of dying from prostate cancer increases with obesity and a diet high in saturated fat.

The final piece of the puzzle is black men’s lifestyle and socioeconomic factors such as income disparity, diet, access to healthcare and a reluctance to undergo annual prostate cancer screening exams. All of these factors can contribute to cancer being diagnosed at a more advanced stage. (Learn more, Causes and Risk factors)

Whether you are undiagnosed, newly diagnosed or have been previously treated for prostate cancer, Dr. Pugach encourages you to get the facts. Advances in PSA testing, genetic screenings, diagnostic imaging and precision fusion biopsy techniques make early diagnosis possible so that men can be helped with new, non-surgical treatment options.

Read Donald Tavie’s, R&B singer with Lakeside and view patient videos. Also, read Dr. Pugach’s personal story about his prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Remember early detection saves lives. Schedule your annual prostate cancer screening exam!

This post was written by Western States HIFU