- Age – Most prostate cancer cases occur in men who are 65 or older. The median age at diagnosis is 68, the average age is 66. That said, there has been a significant number of cases of men diagnosed in their 40’s, with a member of the FFTC website team diagnosed at age 38.
- Race/Ethnicity – African American men are about 75% more likely to be diagnosed than non-Hispanic whites and nearly 2.5 times as likely to die of the disease.
- Family History – Men with a father or brother who had prostate cancer are at a risk of developing the disease that is twice that of a man with no affected family members. If two close male relatives have been diagnosed, a man’s lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer increases five-fold.
Prostate Cancer in African American Men
Overall cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States have continued to decline through the first decade of the 21st century. This is most likely a result of: a reduction in tobacco use; early detection; improved prevention measures; and improved treatments. However, African Americans continue to have higher cancer mortality rates and shorter survival times than their white counterparts. This holds true in all of the screenable cancers – colon cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer. These are significant health inequity issues that continue to be addressed.
Facts and Stats
Prostate cancer remains a particularly unique challenge with regard to health disparities. African American men are more likely to present with advanced disease, are administered different treatment regimens, have shorter progression-free survival following treatment, and have more treatment-related side effects when compared to their white male counterparts.
According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States in 2019, an estimated 29,570 new cases of prostate cancer are expected to be diagnosed among African American men and an estimated 5,350 African American men are expected to die from prostate cancer. The lifetime expectancy of developing prostate cancer is 1in 7 for African American men compared to 1 in 9 for Non–Hispanic white men. The lifetime risk of dying from prostate cancer is 1 in 25 for African American men compared to 1 in 45 for Non-Hispanic white men. Mortality rates also vary by geographic location, with Mississippi having the highest death rate from prostate cancer for African American men at 49.9 per 100,000 for the years 2012 through 2016. By comparison, during the same time period, New York State had a mortality rate of 36.9 per 100,000, New Jersey had a rate of 44.4 per 100,000, and Arizona had a rate of 28.3 per 100,000.
Keys to Addressing Prostate Cancer in the African American Community: Education and Screening
Education and screening play critical roles in addressing the health disparity related toprostate cancer – and prostate cancer, in general. It is essential that African American men are aware of their increased risk of developing and dying of prostate cancer and that they take steps that may help lower their risk, including getting to and staying at a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol consumption. It is also important for African American men to know the medical history of close family members (i.e.,father, brother, son). Having a close family member who was diagnosed with prostate cancer (particularly at an early age) may increase a man’s risk of developing the disease.
Know Your Score
Prostate cancer is highly curable, but only if detected early. Early-stage prostate cancer usually has no symptoms, but a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening – a simple blood test – can help doctors detect the disease in its early stages, when its most curable and offers the most treatment options. Men who are at average risk of prostate cancer should consult with their primary care doctor or urologist about establishing a baseline PSA score by age 50. However, men who are at high risk of developing prostate cancer, a group that includes African American men and men who have a close relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65), should consult with their primary care doctor or urologist about establishing a baseline PSA score even earlier, between the ages of 40-45.