The Latin community is the largest and fastest growing minority population in the United States, but research on prostate cancer in Latinxs lags behind that of other racial/ethnic groups in the nation. According to the International Journal of Cancer, Latinxs represent less than 1% of samples analyzed to date in genome-wide association studies of cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Latin men, with approximately 13,000 new cases and 1,800 deaths each year in the U.S. Although the incidence rates are lower statistically for Latin men compared to non-Hipanic white or Black men, this could be attributed to the fact that Latin men have lower levels of PSA screening, and are 21% less likely to receive definitive treatment for high-risk localized prostate cancer than non-Latin white men which has been shown to result in worse outcomes.
“These disparities can be attributed to sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors, as well as marital status, and health insurance or lack thereof,” says Shelby Moneer, ZERO’s Vice President of Patient Education and Programs.
Other barriers that remain are the cultural norms and stereotypes that often leave Latin men apprehensive when it comes to screening, let alone getting a diagnosis. Training in cultural competency, patient-centered communication, translation services, and materials provided in a variety of languages are more important than ever in the healthcare field to help fill these gaps.
It’s difficult to categorize information and reach viable conclusions about prostate cancer risks in the Latinx community as it is a largely heterogeneous population, with colonization and immigration resulting in varying mixtures of European, Native American, African, and Asian ancestral populations. For example, Mexican Latinos have been found to have lower incident rates than Caribbean Latinos. Disparities have also been reported for clinical characteristics and survival patterns between foreign- and US-born Latinos.
Further studies within Latinx communities are urgently needed to determine genetic risk variants for prostate cancer and improve risk stratification within the population. We urge Latin men, both young and old, to do their part in filling in the cracks when it comes to underrepresentation and take part in research studies as well as clinical trials.