Prostate Cancer in African-Americans
One in 10 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer death in men. African-American men have the world’s highest incidence of prostate cancer—a third higher than white Americans.
Prostate cancer is curable when caught early, and the best means of detection is through regular screening — that is, checkups that specifically look for prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that African-American men, because they are at high risk, should consider being examined before age 50, and some doctors recommend that men at high risk begin getting tested by age 40.
Some possible symptoms of prostate cancer include difficulty urinating; a weak stream; a frequent urge to urinate, especially during the night; painful or burning urination; blood in the urine.
Prostate cancer may not produce symptoms in its earliest stages; therefore, other methods of detection are necessary. One simple means is a blood test called PSA, which tests for prostate-specific antigen, a substance that is usually elevated in the blood when prostate cancer is present. Although a PSA test does not actually diagnosis cancer, it indicates when cancer should be suspected. Then, more specific tests can be performed to make the actual diagnosis. The screening also includes a digital rectal examination (DRE), in which the physician inserts a finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities in the prostate gland.
The causes of prostate cancer are not yet understood. Aside from genetics, some researchers believe that a diet high in fat may be partly responsible. A Harvard study found that a high-fat diet increased prostate cancer risk by 80 percent.
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