2004-09-09 / Medical

Researchers Cite Impact Of Prostate Cancer On African-American Men

A man living in the United States has a 1 in 6 chance of getting prostate cancer during his lifetime. In New York, it is estimated that 14,470 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2004, with approximately 1,880 men dying from the disease .Prostate cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer death in men, exceeded only by lung cancer, and will disproportionately impact the African-American male community, who will die at a rate of 60.7 per 100,000 men, as compared to the 27.8 death rate for white male New Yorkers.

With African-American men having the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world, the need to explore new or better ways to prevent, screen, diagnose, and treat prostate cancer in this population becomes clear. However, the participation by African- American males in prostate cancer “clinical trials” (studies involving people) is extremely poor.

“There are significant barriers that affect the numbers of African-American men participating in cancer clinical trials,” states Rosemarie Slevin Perocchia, Project Director for the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Cancer Information Service (CIS) of New York. “Mistrust of the medical care system because of a long history of discrimination, indifference, and disrespect; cultural beliefs and attitudes; socioeconomic status; or simply being uncomfortable discussing topics like prostate cancer, can be determining factors in research participation. If more African-American men participated in research studies, it would increase the possibility of understanding why prostate cancer is taking such a toll on this community.

So what can the almost 1.35 million African-American male New Yorkers do about their risk for prostate cancer? Unfortunately, the three most important risk factors for prostate cancer in the U.S. — age, race, and family history — are out of an individual’s control. However, there are ways to help reduce the risk for prostate cancer. African-American men should stay physically active, not smoke, and eat 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Some may also choose to consider prostate cancer prevention clinical trials that are designed to find ways to help reduce the risk for prostate cancer.

Researchers are continuing to study various natural and man-made substances such as vitamins or drugs (e.g., finasteride) as hormonal or chemotherapeutic prevention tools for prostate cancer, but more research needs to be done. Men interested in helping to advance the research on prostate cancer for their families and the African-American community should consider the possibility of participating in a clinical trial.

To find out more about prostate cancer or to learn more about clinical trials, call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. African- American religious leaders are especially encouraged to call and request a copy of NCI’s program guide for the “Body & Soul” wellness program, aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among church members.

You can also visit the NCI Web site, www.cancer where you can request information by e-mail or receive immediate and confidential online assistance from an NCI information Specialist through NCI’s LiveHelp service, available Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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