Date Published: 1 October 2008
Black men face higher prostate cancer risk
A UK study has suggested that black men in England are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men.
Researchers at the University of Bristol looked at hospital records for both white and black men and found that the rate of prostate cancer was significantly higher among the black population, even though there was no evidence to suggest that they get poorer access to healthcare.
Black men also tend to be diagnosed with prostate cancer at an earlier age, typically five years younger than white men.
"This is important research as prostate cancer is the most common cancer among UK men and is more common in black men than in white men." - Dr Joanna Peak, science information officer, Cancer Research UK
According to the researchers, the differences between races cannot be explained by differences in diagnostic tests or screening.
They also found that white and black men tend to have similar levels of knowledge about prostate cancer, as well as similar symptoms and similar delays before visiting their doctor.
Study leader Dr Chris Metcalfe, whose findings are published in the British Journal of Cancer, told the BBC:
"One of the possibilities based on anecdote was that black men may delay presentation - so the cancer gets to a later stage. If anything the evidence showed black men were presenting sooner.
There's very few known risk factors for prostate cancer but it's starting to look like being of black race is a risk factor," he added.
Scientists hope that the findings may lead to better care for men who face an elevated risk of prostate cancer.
Dr Joanna Peak, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, commented:
"This is important research as prostate cancer is the most common cancer among UK men and is more common in black men than in white men.
The study indicates that there is a true biological difference between ethnic groups and this knowledge could potentially lead to improved care for men at higher risk of developing prostate cancer."
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Source: Cancer Research UK.