Knowledge is Power
Questions & Answers
Black men prostate cancer and other factors
In Canada, 1 out of 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their life. Every day in Canada, 63 men are diagnosed and 11 men die from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of death from cancer in men in Canada.
Black men of West African or Caribbean ancestry have almost double the risk of developing prostate cancer compared to non-Black men and the mortality rate among Black men is higher than non-Blacks. Black men have a 76% higher rate of prostate cancer and are 2.2x more likely to die from it. Black Men present with more advanced disease compared to non-Blacks, and tend to discover their cancer in its later stages due to not getting an early screening.
A national survey found that many Black respondents weren’t aware that they could be at a higher risk of developing the disease. The survey, conducted by the Prostate Cancer Canada (which is now part of Canadian Cancer Society), also looked to better understand Black Canadians’ behaviours when it comes to testing for early detection of prostate cancer, and general knowledge about the disease.
To address this knowledge gap about cancer risk, as well as meaningfully engage with patients, researchers and community members, a multidisciplinary advisory council was developed to improve Black community members’ awareness of cancer risk, as well as promote prostate cancer testing through the development of health information and awareness campaigns.
If prostate cancer is detected early the survival rate is nearly 100% at 5 years, 98% at 10 years, and 96% at 15 years. However, if it is detected late, the survival rate in 5 years drops from nearly 100% to only 30%.
Therefore, one of the most important things for Black men to do is to get early and regular screening for prostate cancer, as detecting it early is the single best method to improve their survival rates, quality of life, and require less invasive treatment options.
Cultural beliefs and stigmas about masculinity, strength and independence may also affect why prostate cancer affects Black men more. Beliefs that by acknowledging one’s illness, seeking help, having a doctor perform a physical exam, seeking treatment, or by talking to others about one’s challenges to somehow mean you are “weak”, “less of a man”, or a “burden” prevents men from seeking early screening and treatment. Taking responsibility for one’s health from an early age leads to early diagnosis and early treatment options. This leads to an improved survival rate among Black men.
Other reasons for not seeking early screening and treatment may include not trusting the medical system, decreased access to screening facilities, the cost of seeking medical care, previous experiences of racial discrimination, and health professionals not being aware of the higher risk of prostate cancer among Black men.
Black men may also be at increased risk for prostate cancer due to genetics. There is some research that suggests certain genes associated with prostate cancer are more common in Black men especially men of West African and Afro-Caribbean descent. This may also contribute to a more aggressive disease.