Inner-city men and prostate cancer risks

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: June 22nd, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Prostate cancer is the second-most-common cause of cancer-related death in American men over age forty-five. And while education and early detection programs can help catch cancer in its early stages, when it’s easier to treat, not everyone is benefiting.

Routine prostate screenings for inner-city and underserved blacks may simply not be enough, according to a new University of Florida study. Urban black men referred to cancer specialists were almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as their white counterparts… and were four times more likely to have advanced disease at diagnosis.

By the time a test is finally given and comes up positive, malignant cells often have already migrated to other parts of the body, dramatically reducing the chance of a cure. The study correlates with other research that has found black men present with more advanced prostate cancer, putting them at increased risk of ultimately dying from the disease.

Doctors say some black men likely need to be screened at a younger age. Men with a family history of prostate cancer and those of African-American descent should begin screenings at age forty-five, while those who are not at high risk should be getting regular checks starting at fifty.

Yet inner-city men without adequate access to educational resources may not be fully aware of the risks. Researchers recommend establishing large-scale and innovative screening programs in underserved inner-city communities to educate men about prostate cancer, screen them for the disease and help them obtain follow-up care.