African American men are at an increased risk for developing prostate cancer over white men and other men of color. One in six African American men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime. Overall, African American men are 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with—and 2.2 times more likely to die from—prostate cancer than white men. African American men are also slightly more likely than white men to be diagnosed with advanced disease.
Fortunately, the racial divide for prostate cancer outcomes is narrowing. Overall, the five-year relative survival rate for African American men diagnosed with prostate cancer is 97%, which means that if an African American man is diagnosed with prostate cancer today, at any stage, there is a 97% chance he will be alive in five years. When the disease is caught early, this rate increases to nearly 100%.
While there is no clear reason for these differences, several factors can impact cancer risk and outcomes in the African American community. Because of historical context, race in the United States is correlated with socioeconomic status, and lower socioeconomic status is correlated with increased cancer risk and poorer outcomes. African American men may also be harmed by racial bias in preventive care, as they are less likely than white men to be offered the option of having a PSA test, and are more likely than white men to be told that the benefits of the PSA test are uncertain. Additionally, a recent study found that African American men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer were less likely than white men to receive any type of treatment for that cancer.
There are many treatment choices and learning about the options for your prostate cancer will help you make the right decision. Different types of treatment are available for patients with prostate cancer, some treatments which are standard and others that are being tested in clinical trials. Types of standard treatment include: active surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and ultrasound. Some clinical studies are evaluating new treatments such as cryosurgery and Focal Laser Ablation and others are researching new drugs, different combinations of treatments, and new approaches to radiation therapy or surgery. You can find information about clinical trials for early-stage prostate cancer, locally advanced prostate cancer, and advanced prostate cancer here on our website. This listing includes investigational clinical trials of metastatic prostate cancer that are currently being conducted by Merck. It’s always important to discuss with your doctor if a clinical trial is the right option for you.