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Black Men and Prostate Cancer: Why the Ethnic Link is So Strong

Prostate cancer affects an estimated 220,000 American men each and every year. About 30,000 men in the United States also succumb to the disease on an annual basis. While screening and early detection can enable some men to undergo potentially life-saving treatments, not all men receive the screening required to catch the disease early. When it comes to assessing risks that may prompt earlier screening, ethnicity does matter.

Black men, for example, are about 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetimes than white men. They also happen to be about 50 percent more likely to die from this disease because they tend to present with more aggressive forms. While some lower risk prostate cancer may take so long to develop and spread before they might cause a serious health concern, higher risk forms of the disease progress quickly and are known to spread.

Researchers do not fully understand why it is black men are more likely to develop prostate cancer. One theory, however, stands out as an explainer. It seems that black men are more likely to have a specific gene that promotes the formation of more aggressive forms of prostate cancer than other men.

While preventing prostate cancer may not always be possible, all men can help themselves by undergoing routine screening. For black men the screening process may need to start younger than others. Researchers have also found that black men tend to present with prostate cancer young than others. With that in mind, screening protocols should begin around the age of 40. This is especially so for men who have a family history of the disease.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease in America. It does not, however, have to be a death sentence. When the disease is detected early, men will find a number of options are available to help them fight back.