By: Warren Jones, MPH
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Black men are 1.6 times more likely to get prostate cancer than other racial groups and twice as likely to die from it. According to the American Cancer Society, Black men tend to be younger when prostate cancer occurs, and the cancer tends to be more aggressive and progresses faster. Physicians do not fully understand why Black men are at such an elevated risk. However, there are factors germane to men of African ancestry. They are:
- Age: The chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. Black men should begin testing at 45.
- Family History: Prostate cancer seems to run in some families. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. Do not be fooled, however. Prostate cancer can occur in men without a family history.
- Obesity: Food deserts and the lack of healthy food causes Black men to be more likely than non-Hispanic white males to have obesity. Being physically active and following a healthy diet are ways to lower your risk.
- Racial bias in health care: African Americans are less likely to receive prostate screenings or Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) tests.
- Delayed Care: Black men may be reluctant to get a prostate exam due to cultural myths. Being uninsured or underinsured because of various socioeconomic issues delays or prevents men from seeing a doctor.
The Institute for the Advancement for Minority Health is very intentional regarding its mission to reduce health disparities, one community at a time and is committed to raising prostate cancer awareness in the Black community. In September, the Institute’s Black Men’s Health Equity Council launched a media campaign, Brother, Go Get Checked! The Brother, Go Get Checked! campaign is designed to elevate knowledge regarding prostate cancer. Its goal is to encourage Black men to go to the doctor and to get tested. Via social media flyers, radio ads and newspaper articles, the Institute is providing information to assist Black men understand the dangers of the disease and the importance of screenings. Additionally, outreach activities are scheduled to expose college-age men to risk factors, explore the significance of early detection, and provide exposure to careers in oncology.
A prostate cancer diagnosis has an enormous physical, emotional, and fiscal impact on the patient and their loved ones. Just as you would never drive an impaired vehicle or allow a criminal to invade your family dwelling, do not let prostate cancer to rob you of your golden years or wreck your family’s future via grief and loss. Research says effective treatment and improved outcomes are possible with early detection. So please, Brother, Go Get Checked!
Warren Jones, MPH, is an epidemiologist with the Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health. As coordinator of the Black Men’s Health Equity Council, Jones is a leader and advocate for Black men’s health. Jones is a graduate of Tougaloo College and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
If crime increases in your neighborhood, you will relocate your family. If a recall is issued on your vehicle, you will take it to the dealership for repair. As a Black man, it is imperative to employ the same diligence implemented when it comes to your family’s safety to your own personal health and physical well-being.
The Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health was established in 2019 to reduce health disparities among disadvantaged and underserved minority populations in Mississippi through the development of collaborative partnerships with community stakeholders and the implementation of evidence-based public health interventions with a particular focus on health equity.