Prostate cancer is a disease that can strike any man, most especially in their middle to later years. Black men, however, need to pay extra attention to their risks to safeguard their health.
“Research has indicated that men of African-American descent are much more likely to develop prostate cancer over the course of their lifetimes than others,” says Dr. Gregory Echt, founder and lead surgeon at the Prostate Seed Institute. “They’re also much more likely to develop aggressive forms of the disease, which makes them more likely to die from the cause.”
Dr. Echt is referring to research than shows black men are 60 percent more likely than their white counterparts to be diagnosed with the disease. They are also about 50 percent more likely to die from prostate cancer than others. Black men also tend to develop the disease at a slightly younger age, about three years, than others.
“All of that adds up to one very big reason for black men to be concerned about prostate health,” says Dr. Echt. “Early screening can prove to be crucial for helping men battle this disease successfully should it develop.”
The reasons why black men are more likely to develop prostate cancer are not fully understood. Researchers have suggested the potential of a genetic link, but the topic does require further study. In the meantime, men, regardless of race, should take time out to go in for routine prostate checkups. For those at high risk, screening should begin around the age of 40. Other men may find their healthcare providers recommending screening at later ages.
“Prostate cancer affects more than 220,000 American men each year,” says Dr. Echt. “For those who are able to catch this disease in its earlier phases, treatment has proven very successful. The key is enabling that early detection by going in for routine exams.”