No More Prostate Cancer Screenings For Black Men?

    A man looking out of a window in an officeProstate cancer screenings are a powerful preventative tool that every Black man should have in his health arsenal.

    But on Monday, May 21, 2012, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent group of medical experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, advised that physicians no longer offer routine screening for prostate cancer with the PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test.

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    Previous guidelines had stated that most men should undergo screening for prostate cancer with the PSA blood test beginning at age 50 or much earlier if they’re at high risk for prostate cancer.

    The task force’s reasoning for recommending against routine PSA screening in men without symptoms was that routine screening often lead to the over-diagnosis of prostate cancer and unnecessary treatment that can leave men impotent and incontinent. The task force concluded screening may only help one man in every 1,000 to avoid dying from prostate cancer; whereas up to five in 1,000 men will die within a month of prostate cancer surgery, the panel said, and between 10 and 70 per 1,000 men will suffer lifelong adverse effects, such as urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction and bowel dysfunction.

    So how does this new recommendation relate to black men’s health? About 242,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in Americans this year, and about 28,000 will die from it, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Prostate cancer is the fourth most common cause of death in black men.

    Here are a few more unfortunate facts about prostate cancer in black men:

    • The worldwide incidence of prostate cancer is higher among American black men than any other male group.

    • Black men in America continue to have the highest incidence rate of prostate cancer in the world — 180.6 per 100,000 population.

    • Between 1996 and 2000 in the United States, the death rate of prostate cancer among black men was more than double that of white men.

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