Prostate Cancer Crisis Among Black Men

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Why are black men at an increased risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer?

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution Thursday acknowledging that awareness and prevention of the disease is as critical as it’s ever been for African American men.

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The Senate resolution, which was introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), urges federal agencies to address what they’re now calling an “epidemic” by supporting education, awareness outreach and research specifically focused on how prostate cancer affects black men.

Prostate cancer is the leading type of cancer in men in the United States, with over 240,000 men diagnosed and 30,000 thousand dying from it each year. Also, for reasons that are not completely understood, African-American men have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the U.S, as 1 in 5 will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. African-Americans are also 60% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 2.5 times likely to die of the disease.

When caught early, prostate cancer can be treated, usually successfully. But, because many men experience no symptoms, it is often identified only by an abnormal result on a basic prostate cancer screening called the PSA test. The PSA test is a blood test that measures prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate gland. An increase in the PSA level is often the only sign of early prostate cancer. The PSA test is also valuable in monitoring patients after treatment.