African-American males are less likely to be screened for prostate cancer than Caucasian males. However, recent data indicate the gap is lessening. To date, there are several reasons why Black men are less likely to undergo screenings for prostate cancer, like:
— Deficiencies in health literacy or knowledge regarding the need to or indications for undergoing prostate cancer screening
— Poor communication between physicians and minority patients due to a lack of cultural competency
— Lack of health insurance
— Poor access to quality care as a result
— Fear and distrust of undergoing prostate cancer screening
— Oftentimes feelings that many Black men have regarding hopelessness and helplessness
All of these collectively contribute to the fact that Black men are less often referred to undergo screenings and/or less likely to choose to be screened. Though awareness is increasing, many African-Americans are unaware of early detection methods for prostate cancer, like PSA testing.
What Is PSA Testing?
Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. The higher a man’s PSA level, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer. For this test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. Serum PSA testing combined with digital rectal examination testing remains the methods of choice for prostate cancer screening.
PSA levels differ according to both the age and race of the patient. Therefore, the predictive value of PSA in the diagnosis of prostate cancer may differ between African-Americans and Caucasians. Black men, with or without prostate cancer, have been found to have higher PSA levels. Thus, physicians should have a lower threshold for referring African-American men with a suspiciously high PSA level for further urologic evaluation and prostate biopsy.
Read more about prostate health and Black men at BlackDoctor.Org.
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