One of the challenges is the stigma attached to the test, which can be embarrassing for some men. It’s better to endure it to protect yourself and your family than to let them suffer from a devastating tragedy that could have been avoided.
The risk of prostate cancer is exacerbated in black men, who are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with and die from prostate cancer than white men and at a younger age. While one in every eight men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime, it’s one in every six for black men.
Genetics and Hormones
Testosterone plays a critical part in prostate cancer, as the cancer cells rely on testosterone to grow. This is why hormone therapy is a standard treatment option for prostate cancer, as it involves blocking testosterone in the body to deprive the cancer of its primary growth resource.
Black men statistically have 2.5 to 4.9 percent higher levels of testosterone on average than white men. When averaged out across an entire population, even small percentages can lead to significant trackable differences in cancer diagnoses. Higher testosterone levels can potentially increase the speed with which the disease progresses, which could make treating the cancer more difficult, especially if it’s not diagnosed early.
Some studies have also cited a higher likelihood of a mutation in the BRCA gene as a contributing factor to the elevated risk level in black men. The BRCA gene is commonly called the tumor suppression gene due to its ability to produce proteins that can repair damaged DNA. This means that a mutation in the gene will greatly elevate your risk of developing cancer.
A few preliminary studies have found a higher frequency of the BRCA gene mutation in African American men than in white men, although more research needs to be done to know definitively. However, these studies do highlight the benefit of genomic profiling for informing individuals if they have the gene mutation that elevates their cancer risk so they can take appropriate action, including scheduling frequent screenings.
Historic Socioeconomic Limitations and Racial Bias
The reason for the extreme difference in risk profiles between races goes beyond genes and hormones. Black men have historically been more likely to have their treatment deferred. They were also more likely not to be offered appropriate screening and tests.
One study reported that African American men were 27 percent less likely to receive treatment than white men. Although it did not point to one monocausal explanation, common issues cited in the study include a lack of patient education, poor doctor-patient communication and inadequate workforce diversity.
Historically, many black men in the U.S. haven’t been able to access adequate healthcare resources, resulting in fewer screenings and a delayed diagnosis and treatment that can severely impact their prognosis.
If you are worried about the cost of screenings or treatment, we can help. At the Community Cancer Center in Roseburg, we provide robust financial sources, including liaison programs, so you can receive the care you need.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Prostate Cancer
Routine cancer screenings are crucial to your continued well-being. While some may start screening for prostate cancer at 50, African American men and men of any race with a family history of prostate cancer should start undergoing screenings around 40 or 45.
Screening methods commonly include the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam (DRE) to detect abnormalities in the prostate gland.
Aside from regular screenings, you can also protect yourself by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including exercising regularly and limiting your intake of certain foods that can increase your risk, such as red meat, processed meat, foods that contain high levels of saturated fat and dairy products.
Schedule Your Prostate Exam Today with Compassionate and Experienced Oncologists in Roseburg, OR
At the Community Cancer Center, our oncologists are available to provide you with prompt screenings and effective treatments. Our compassionate staff is dedicated to helping patients and their families adjust during a challenging time and get answers to the many questions they have after a cancer diagnosis.
Learn more about how we can help by calling (541) 673-2267 or by exploring our patient resources page today.