As September draws to a close, it’s important to remember that it is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Typically, when one thinks of prostate cancer, it is associated with older men, the average age at the time of diagnosis being around 66, according to the American Cancer Society.
Although one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, just like with other illnesses, Black men are impacted by this disease at a greater rate. In fact, statistics indicate that one in five Black men will be personally affected by the silent disease in their lifetime. And if left untreated, Black men are 2.4 times likely to die from the disease, when compared to White males.
Prostate cancer is usually known as a silent disease, since symptoms might not appear, until the later stages. But the disease is treatable if it is caught early. A few of the warning signs include pelvic pain, problems urinating or blood in the urine.
Since 2012, there has been a vigorous debate among urologists and medical associations as to when to be tested and the effectiveness of screening. Unfortunately, the data sample being utilized by the medical associations to make their decision does not adequately represent Black men. Currently, there has yet to be a comprehensive study as to why this group is more prone to be affected by this disease.
Although there is no conclusive data available, scientists believe some of the key drivers of the disease with Black men range from genetics, diet and environmental factors.
While doctors disagree about when the screening process should begin, here are four faces of Black men who were diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in their 40s and 50s, which is well before the age of the average man being diagnosed with the disease.
So if you talk to any of the Black men we’ve featured who are now cured and blessed to be alive, the consensus would be to get tested annually and early. It’s your choice. Those with a family history should start their annual testing at age 35; for those without a history, begin testing at age 40. To find out more details about the disease, visit pcf.org.
Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this story, Charles Walden’s name was misspelled.