Should we consider race when thinking about prostate cancer? According to robotic prostate surgeon David B. Samadi, MD, the answer is yes. The American Cancer Society reports that prostate cancer has a higher occurrence in African-American men than in any other race. Adding to this, prostate cancer in African-American men is frequently diagnosed in its later, more advanced stages.
From the perspective of the doctor, screening for prostate cancer needs to be done early on, especially when a patient has certain risk factors. If it is more common for African-American men to develop prostate cancer, then all doctors need to be checking for it in patients that are at risk. When an African-American man walks into Dr. Samadi’s office, he knows that there is a chance this patient may have prostate cancer. Vigorous screening and early detection are the best tools a person can have against prostate cancer.
Recently, Lenox Hill Prostate Cancer Center conducted a study of 484 white men and 72 African-American men. Of those studied, it was reported that 87.7% of men did not regret having their prostate removed. While 11.2% of white men were not satisfied with their prostate removal, 20.6% of African-American men were regretful of their prostate removal.
While genetics and race can be factors for prostate cancer risks, Dr. Samadi also notes that in African-American men, there is a large number of diagnoses that happen in the cancer’s later stages due to lack of screening and prostate cancer education. In general, Dr. Samadi says that men are more resistant to regular examinations. Avoiding testing will only decrease your chances of surviving prostate cancer.
“It is taboo for many African-American men to go see doctors or screen [for prostate cancer],” says Dr. Samadi. “For these patients, the expectation or lack of knowledge of prostate cancer going into surgery makes the degree of regret higher.”
How can these statistics change? Dr. Samadi emphasizes that education is the key to preventing the disease. In the African-American community, where prostate cancer rates tend to be higher, education about prostate cancer is limited, thus leading to fewer screenings, later detection of cancer, and a higher mortality rate.
The bottom line is that, in any community, education on the disease, regular screening, early detection, and aggressive intervention are the greatest tools that one can have in the battle against prostate cancer.