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Facts On African-Americans and Prostate Cancer

Q. Are African-American men at increased risk for prostate cancer?

A. Yes. Though all men are at risk, African-American men have higher rates of getting and dying from prostate cancer than men of other racial or ethnic groups in the United States. Scientists do not know why prostate cancer is more common in African-American men than in others. They are studying possible reasons, including culture, environment, and differences in the biology of the disease in African-American men.

Q. What is the lifetime risk of prostate cancer in African-American men?

A. An African American man in his lifetime has about a:

  • 19 percent chance (1 in 5) of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  • 5 percent chance (1 in 20) of dying from prostate cancer.

Q. What else can increase the risk for prostate cancer?

A. Besides race and ethnicity, other factors that can increase risk are:

  • Family history.Men with a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer are at greater risk for developing it themselves.
  • Age.The older a man is, the greater his risk for getting prostate cancer.

Q. Is prostate cancer serious?

A. Some prostate cancers become a serious threat to health by growing quickly, spreading beyond the prostate gland to other parts of the body, and causing death. Yet other prostate cancers grow slowly and never become a serious health threat or affect how long a man lives. Doctors can't always be sure what type of cancer is present in your particular case.

Q. How serious is prostate cancer in African-American men?

A. Among the 10 leading causes of cancer death in African-American men, prostate cancer is second, behind lung cancer. When compared to all causes of death, prostate cancer is the fourth leading cause of death among African-American men over age 45.

Above content provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted October 2011

Contact Information

Prostate Cancer Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Shapiro Clincial Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: 617-667-7777
Fax: 617-667-7292