Prostate Cancer in African American and Other Men


September, which is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, is a good time to focus on Prostate Cancer because it occurs rather commonly in African American men after age 40, and in many additional men after 50 or 60 years of age.  Therefore, men and  their wives or partners need to be well informed about prostate cancer.

What the Prostate Gland and Prostate Cancer Are  

Have you ever wondered what the prostate gland and Prostate Cancer are? The prostate is a walnut-sized part of the male reproductive system that’s located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland don’t grow normally. Instead, they divide and make more cells than the body needs, thus forming a tumor. With cancer, cells from the tumor usually either spread to one or more nearby areas, or break off and spread to further away areas of the body. This last process is called metastasis, which is a more serious form of cancer.

Key Screening Tests for Early Detection

African American men above 40 years of age should have a digital rectal examination (rectal examination with the doctor’s gloved finger) every year and all other men should do so after 50 years of age. In addition, prostate cancer can often be found early by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen or PSA in the blood. However, because PSA test results can have different meanings, it’s important that the meaning be discussed with one’s doctor in making a decision about how to proceed (See discussion of prostate cancer treatment below).

Key Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

  • Being a man over 50 years old–40 years old for African-American men
  • Being African-American
  • History of father or brother having had it
  • Eating too many foods high in fat and red meat
  • Not eating enough fruits and vegetables

Don’t believe the myth that an enlarged prostate means cancer because it’s common in men over 60 years of age. However, since some men with enlarged prostates may have cancer, it’s very important that all men above this age get screened on a regular basis.

Key Symptoms of BOTH Cancer of the Prostate and Enlarged Prostate

  • Decreased or weak urination
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Inability to urinate at night
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Blood in the semen (or possibly the urine)
  • Pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs

When a man has any of the following warning signals above, he should see his doctor, and preferably a urologist since these doctors specialize in treating prostate disease.

Treatment Methods for Prostate Cancer

There are various choices for treating prostate cancer when it has not spread, which should be decided on by the man and his doctor together, including: 

  • Watchful waiting without treatment, but with a digital rectal examination, and PSA test being done by the doctor on a regular basis, unless symptoms or signs develop that the tumor is growing
  • Surgery–removal of the prostate
  • Radiation therapy to remove the cancer cells
  • Hormone therapy–giving certain hormones to stop the cells from growing

Other Key Information on Prostate Health . . . A new Prostate Health Guide by the Men’s Health Network

Visit our website Men’s Health Channel for more men’s health information, including:

NOTE: The Health Power Website Cancer Section has information on the following additional cancers:

Breast Cancer

Cervical Cancer

Colorectal Cancer

Lung Cancer

Remember our motto or tagline: Knowledge + Action = Power!(R)



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