New Study Suggests That Black Men Should Start Prostate Cancer Screening Earlier

New findings suggest that the disease progresses faster in this demographic.

Some researchers now believe that black men may merit their own race-specific screening guidelines due to studies that have shown that they have a higher risk of developing — and dying from — prostate cancer.

Compared to white men, the incidence of prostate cancer is 60 percent higher among black men in the U.S. Also the death rate from prostate cancer is more than twice as high for black men than white men in this country, and the prostate cancers in black men tend to progress faster.

Based on these statistics/facts, some researchers believe that black men merit their own race-based screening guidelines. Other experts disagree with the idea of race-based screening guidelines.

Some experts strongly believe that black men should start talking to their physicians about prostate cancer screening at an earlier age; in their 40’s vs. their 50’s. Most standard guidelines suggest that these talks begin when a man is in their 50’s. Black men may also benefit from more frequent screening.

In the U.S. prostate cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis for men. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death for males in this country.

Because screening can sometimes lead to unnecessary treatment, it can be a source of controversy among medical experts. Many experts feel that there should be specific clinical guidelines written that are specific to black men.


When it comes to prostate cancer, screening usually consists of a blood test to measure the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal exam to check the prostate gland for enlargement or other abnormalities.

If a PSA level is above 4.0 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood it is considered high, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recently proposed new recommendations for prostate cancer screening. It now suggests that men in their 50s should start a discussion with their doctor about the risks and benefits of screening. According to this task force, whether a man gets screened or not should be an individual, informed decision.

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