The worldwide incidence of prostate cancer is higher among American Black men than any other male group. In the United States, lack of participation in screening for prostate cancer by Black men is influenced by several cultural factors, including knowledge, health beliefs, barriers, and relationships with primary healthcare providers.
The prostate is a walnut sized gland in males located at the base of the bladder, surrounding the neck of the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis). The prostate is part of a male’s sex organs, and produces a secretion that is the fluid part of semen. At around age 40, three prostate conditions can start developing that effect the health and/or quality of life of many men:
Enlarged prostate or BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy): The symptoms of BPH include a hesitant, interrupted, or weak stream while urinating; urgency to urinate and leaking or dribbling; and more frequent urination, especially at night.
Prostatitis: an inflammation of the prostate that can be caused by a bacterial infection or other condition.
Prostate cancer: typically a very slow growing tumor, often causing no symptoms until advanced stages. But once prostate cancer begins to grow more rapidly or spreads outside the prostate, it is dangerous. This aggressive type of prostate cancer can occur at any age. Although the disease tends to progress slowly, it is generally fatal if it spreads beyond the prostate gland itself.
Screening: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a substance produced by the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer or a noncancerous condition such as BPH or prostatitis. Because the prostate is close to the rectum, a doctor can feel it during a digital rectal exam (DRE) (the part of a physical where the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into a man's anus). The PSA exam, a blood test, is used in conjunction with a digital rectal exam to screen for prostate cancer. If your PSA blood test and/or DRE indicate that you might have cancer, your doctor will do a prostate biopsy (take a tissue sample) to determine the disease is present. African American men are 60 percent more likely to get prostate cancer than Whites. They're also twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as any other ethnic group. A family history of prostate cancer increases a man's chances of developing the disease. Most men are encouraged to start having prostate screenings around age 50. However, experts recommend African American men begin testing at age 40 or earlier. Men should consult their physicians to determine when and how often they should be screened.