Black men have an estimated 70 percent to 110 percent higher incidence and mortality rate for prostate cancer than White men in the United States, according to a new study led by the American Cancer Society and published December in the journal European Urology.
The new data is consistent with previous ACS studies that found racially disproportionate cancer death rates overall for Black Americans. Black men have six percent higher cancer incidences but 19 percent higher cancer mortality than White men, which highlights the lower survival rates for Black men.
ACS has pointed to structural racism as the underlying source of the health disparities, the consequences of interconnected discriminatory practices in access to quality education, healthy foods, healthcare, housing and other areas.
"Previous studies have reported that differences in prevalence of cigarette smoking, obesity, and consumption of unhealthy diet, as well as inequity in receipt of standard of care, may have contributed to the disparities in incidence and mortality rates for some of the genitourinary cancers,” Elizabeth Schafer, an ACS scientist, stated.
Dr. Reginald Tucker-Seeley, vice president of health at Equity at ZERO, has highlighted additional cultural factors.
“As Black men, we often hear that we don’t talk about our health enough, or that we won’t go to the doctor unless forced to do so (and of course, this might hold a bit of truth). But, from very early ages, many of us receive messages that ‘real men’ don’t ask for help. If you combine these messages with our historical and present experiences with discrimination in the healthcare delivery system (and other systems such as education and criminal justice), the pathways to our poor health outcomes are often frustratingly expected,” Tucker-Seeley wrote in September on BET.com for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
Among the other results of the study, ACS found that, geographically, the highest mortality rates for prostate cancer in White men were found in the Western region of the United States.
The researchers analyzed incidence rates for bladder, kidney, prostate, and testicular cancers across the United States from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Database at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Mortality rates were based on the U.S. Cancer Statistics database from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).