By Darius Spearman (africanelements)
Dexter King, the son of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., recently passed away at 62, a stark reminder of the disproportionate impact of prostate cancer on African American men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this group faces a significantly higher risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer compared to other races and ethnicities (Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Dr. John Stewart of Morehouse School of Medicine emphasizes the importance of regular screenings and addressing the medical system’s distrust within the Black community.
Statistics paint a troubling picture. In 2020, out of every 100,000 white men, 95 received a prostate cancer diagnosis. In contrast, among Black (non-Hispanic) men, this number rose to 154 (U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group). “We’ve got to make sure to get the word out about prostate cancer screenings,” states Dr. Stewart, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and proactive health measures (PressReader).
Several factors contribute to this increased risk. Genetics, social environment, smoking history, and limited physical activity all play a role. Moreover, African American men often have less access to high-quality care. This disparity in healthcare access, coupled with historical mistrust in the medical field, exacerbates the situation (Penn State Health News).
Dr. Wayne Harris of Emory School of Medicine highlights that prostate cancer in African American men tends to have an earlier onset and a more aggressive profile. The American Cancer Society now recommends African American men begin prostate cancer screenings at 45, five years earlier than other ethnic groups (American Cancer Society).
Treatment disparities also exist. African American men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer are less likely to receive treatment compared to other ethnic populations, despite the cancer’s typically more aggressive nature in African Americans. This gap highlights the need for more equitable healthcare practices and the importance of community support in promoting healthier lifestyles and early screenings (Penn State Health News).
The medical community continues to strive for better outcomes in this fight against prostate cancer, particularly for African American men. Increased awareness, early detection, and equitable treatment remain pivotal in turning the tide against this prevalent health concern.
About the author:
Darius Spearman is a Professor of Black Studies at San Diego City College, where he has been pursuing his love of teaching since 2007. He is the author of several books, including Between The Color Lines: A History of African Americans on the California Frontier Through 1890. You can visit Darius online at africanelements.org