Black Men & Prostate Cancer

Did you know that 1 in 7 Canadian men will develop prostate cancer and that men of African or Caribbean descent are at increased risk of developing the disease? If you are like many Canadian men, you may not know your risk and you may have some questions about prostate cancer. 
 
Why is prostate cancer particularly important for black men?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect Canadian men. Even more alarming is that Prostate Cancer is more common in men of African or Caribbean descent. Research has not determined a definitive reason why black men are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
 
Other factors that make developing prostate cancer more likely include:

Age: For the general population, the chance of getting prostate cancer rises quickly after a man reaches age 50.

Family history: Your risk of prostate cancer is increased if men in your family have had the disease.

Diet: Men who eat a low-fibre, high-fat diet have a higher rate of prostate cancer. Research suggests that saturated fat (commonly found in processed foods, whole-milk dairy products and fatty cuts of meat) increases the production of the hormone testosterone, which may help prostate cancer cells grow.
 


Remember, it is possible to develop prostate cancer even when none of these risk factors are present.  
 
Can I get screened for prostate cancer?
It is important that all men get screened, and with prostate cancer being more prevalent in men of African or Caribbean descent it’s very important for black men to get screened for prostate cancer. The primary screening for prostate cancer is the PSA test. Click here for more information.
 
If screening is important, why are many men not getting checked?
There are several factors that might discourage men from talking to their doctor about prostate cancer and getting screened. Some of the most common barriers include: 
 
Some Common Barriers to Getting Screened Possible Ways to Overcome the Barriers
Don't know about prostate cancer and the risk - Do what you can to learn about prostate cancer and your risk factors.
- Talk to your healthcare provider(s) about prostate cancer and discuss screening options
Not something men talk about - Social change starts with one person. Be brave and talk about prostate cancer. Men need to talk about prostate cancer to raise awareness and help others.
Don't want to seem weak - Seeking medical attention and taking care of your health is not a sign of weakness. It's important to take care of yourself so you can support others in your life.
Fear of getting diagnosed with cancer - This is a very common and valid feeling. However, keep in mind that when diagnosed early your chances of survival are greatly increased.
If diagnosed with prostate cancer, the treatments will lead to sexual dysfunction - The majority of men diagnosed with prostate cancer won't need treatment because the cancer is very slow growing and does not cause symptoms
- However, if you need treatment that may have sexual side effects there are many ways to manage and overcome them,
Lack of trust with the medical system - If you've had negative experiences in the past with the medical system, try visiting a different healthcare provider and getting a second opinion.
- Learn about your screening options, so you can make an informed decision that works for you.

Take Home Message
It’s important for all men, and especially for black men, to learn about prostate cancer and your risk for the disease so you can develop a plan for screening with your doctor.
 
Have questions about prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment or treatment side effects? Talk with an information specialist, one-on-one, confidentially, for free. Call 1-855-PCC-INFO (1-855-722-4636) or email support@prostatecancer.ca
 
Explore our Expert Angle Webinars including Dr. Tetteh Ago’s presentation titled
Prostate Cancer; a Black Person’s Perspective: Keep the Baby Lose the Bath Water

 

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