Prostate cancer and why early detection is important for Black men

by Nicole Joseph

Cancer is the “C” word that has wreaked havoc on many lives, leaving families in pain and suffering. There are many types of cancers. However, some are more concerning than others. At the root of it all, no matter the cancer, all cancers aim to destroy the affected part of the body. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, “Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body.” Also, “Cancer is a genetic disease—that is, it is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide.”

September was Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, but because it continues to wreak havoc on Black men, any time is a great time to shine a light on this pernicious disease.

Here, we take a deeper look at prostate cancer and share the importance of early detection. 

Unlike other cancers, prostate cancer primarily affects men. As men age, they are more prone to developing this cancer. Given the rate at which the tumor grows in the prostate, it’s easy for a man to have it without knowing. 

 

Zero Prostate Cancer reported that one in six Black men will develop prostate cancer. They are 1.7 times more likely to get it than White men and 2.1 times more likely to die from the disease. 

Though prostate cancer does not target any specific race, once diagnosed, Black men are less likely to survive than other races. Some factors contributing to the rate at which Black men die from prostate cancer are disparities in healthcare, healthcare access among underserved communities, racism, bias and lack of access to health insurance and healthcare services.  

Providing tools to help African-American men with prostate cancer make decisions about care can make a big difference. michaeljung/Shutterstock.com

The recommended age for men to get screened for cancer is 55-69. However, those with prostate cancer may not always show symptoms in its early stages. Regular screening is essential, especially for those at a higher risk. There are pros and cons to getting tested too early. The cons of early testing before the recommended age may include unnecessary pain, semen infused with blood, possible infection and false positive results. If diagnosed, the pros consist of early treatment, which could make the cancer less likely to spread throughout the body, lowering the risk of death and increasing peace of mind. 

Research by John Hopkins Medicine suggests that men between the ages of 40-54 with a family history of prostate cancer should seek early testing.  

Anyone with a prostate should consider prostate cancer screening at or before the recommended age. As shared by Cancer Prostate UK, the following people are also likely to develop the disease: 

  • Cis men (men who identify as male and were assigned male at birth)
  • Trans women (women who identify as female and were assigned male at birth)
  • Non-binary people who were assigned male at birth
  • Some intersex people.

It is essential to continue spreading awareness about prostate cancer, encouraging regular check-ups, and providing support and information to individuals assigned male at birth and families affected by this disease. Early detection and timely treatment can significantly improve the chances of survival and quality of life for those diagnosed. 

 

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