Black Americans are at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer than white Americans. Survival rates are lower, too.
The gap is narrowing, but Black people are still at risk for developing prostate cancer earlier in life and being diagnosed at a more advanced stage. We’ll discuss why researchers think there’s a disparity and current recommendations for screening for prostate cancer.
The following are some of the
- Ethnicity: African American men are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer than white, Hispanic, or Asian men.
- Age: Most cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed after the age of 65.
- Geography: Prostate cancer diagnosis is more common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and the Caribbean than in other parts of the world. This may be due to more screening for cancer or lifestyle differences.
- Family history: Having one or more relatives with prostate cancer increases your chance of getting the disease.
- Genetic changes: Inherited gene mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and Lynch syndrome are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer.
Based on data from
Recent data shows how much race is a risk factor for getting prostate cancer:
- According to statistics reported in 2022, over the last 5 years, Black men have been about
twice as likelyto die from prostate cancer compared to white men.
- The 5-year prostate cancer survival rate for localized cancer is 96 percent for Black men, compared to 98 percent for white men (based on
datafrom 2011 to 2017). Metastatic prostate cancer survival rates are lower.
- Based on
datafrom 2016 to 2018, the lifetime probability that a Black man will die from prostate cancer is 1 in 26, compared to 1 in 44 for a white man.
- Black men develop prostate cancer at a younger age than white men, and the cancer is
44–75 percentmore likely to metastasize before diagnosis.
While Black men are still at higher risk, the discrepancy has been narrowing over the last two decades. As of 2019, the prostate cancer death rate for Black men had gone down
Nearly 100 percent of men (regardless of race) who are diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early stage will survive at least 5 years. Those early stage diagnoses make up
However, Black men are more likely to die from cancer of any type because they’re more often diagnosed after the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage that’s difficult to treat.
Black Americans’ risks are not just higher for prostate cancer. Black people alsoo experience the highest death rates and lowest survival rates of any ethnic group for a number of conditions, including most cancers, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Researchers have proposed some socioeconomic reasons Black people experience worse health outcomes:
- inadequate health insurance
- less access to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment
- treatments for advanced cancers are less effective and more expensive
Black people in the United States are
Other factors, including distrust of medical professionals, may be at play as well.
Screening for prostate cancer is not standard or generally recommended for people at low or average risk. Men with risk factors listed above should discuss screening with their doctor and make an informed individual decision. Prostate-specific antigen screening is imperfect and may lead to false detection of cancer and unnecessary invasive procedures.
If prostate cancer is suspected based on antigen screening or a digital rectal exam, further tests — like imaging or biopsy — are needed to confirm a diagnosis.
Standard treatments for prostate cancer include active surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and ultrasound. Being aware of your options for screening and treatment is a good first step for talking with your doctor about increased risk for prostate cancer if you’re Black.
It’s recommended that high risk populations be screened earlier than the average age of screening, which is 55.
Talk with your doctor about prostate health if you have any of the following
- trouble starting urination
- weak or interrupted urine flow
- frequent urination
- pain during urination
- trouble emptying your bladder
- blood in urine or semen
- painful ejaculation
- pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
It’s important to note, however, that prostate cancer is often asymptomatic in its early stages. The Prostate Cancer Foundation recommends that men with a family history of prostate cancer and African American men be screened as early as age 40, regardless of the presence of symptoms.
Ethnicity can factor into the risk of prostate cancer. Black men are more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage of cancer and are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as white men.
The disparity is likely due to differences in socioeconomic status and access to healthcare, along with genetic factors. Black men may benefit from additional screening for prostate cancer.