What Every Black Man Should Know About Prostate Cancer
More than 41,000 Black men in the U.S. will learn that they have prostate cancer this year. In fact, about 1 in 6 will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their life. That compares to 1 in 8 white men.
When it comes to death rates, the differences are even starker. Black men are more than twice as likely to die of the disease than other men. It’s one of the largest racial disparities seen in cancer.
What does that mean for you? Following are some things you should be sure to discuss with your healthcare provider.
Prostate cancer screening
To help find prostate cancer early, a screening test can measure prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in the blood. While this screening offers an important potential benefit, PSA tests sometimes yield inaccurate or unclear results. And even if the test accurately finds prostate cancer, treatment isn’t always necessary. Some prostate cancers grow so slowly that they may never cause problems in a man’s lifetime.
Experts recommend making a personal choice about prostate cancer screening after discussing it thoroughly with your provider. The American Cancer Society says this conversation should start at age 45 for Black men. Talk about the possible benefits, harms, and uncertainties of screening.
Controllable risk factors
Take these steps to improve your health and potentially reduce your prostate cancer risk:
Consume calcium in moderation. Check with your provider before using calcium supplements. Men with high intakes of dairy foods or calcium may have a slightly increased risk of getting prostate cancer.
Quit smoking and lose weight, if you need to. Ask your provider for advice on how to work toward these goals. Some evidence has found that smoking and being overweight may raise the risk for fatal prostate cancer.
Follow a healthy eating pattern, such as the Mediterranean diet. This eating pattern is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, olive oil, fish, and nuts. It has been linked to a lower risk of death in prostate cancer survivors.
Schedule a yearly wellness visit. Take the opportunity to talk with your provider about other healthy habits and whether a PSA test is right for you.