African-American men at greater risk

Of the more than 242,000 American men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and the 28,000 who will die as a result of it this year, a disproportionate number of African-American men will be represented in each group.

The disparity is eye opening: African-American men are nearly 1.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than Caucasian men and 2.4 times more likely to die from the disease.

Although scientists do not yet fully understand why prostate cancer incidence and death rates are higher within the African-American population, it is widely believed that a combination of factors and disparities likely play a combinative role in the statistics, and in some cases, create a perfect storm for diagnosis of aggressive disease.

Despite ongoing controversies concerning the benefit of prostate cancer screening and treatment of localized disease, prostate cancer continues to be the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. In addition to the thousands of men that die from prostate cancer each year, many more will deal with the debilitating consequences that occur when the cancer spreads to other areas of the body, most commonly the bone, resulting in severe pain, fractures, and other serious medical complications.

“African-American men, in particular, display increased risk of suffering and death from prostate cancer, compared to men of other ancestral backgrounds. Black men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, are diagnosed at a younger age, display larger tumors, and are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer that has spread throughout the body than white males says Isla Garraway, MD, PhD, a prostate cancer researcher at UCLA.”

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