Prostate Cancer in Southern Black Men: The Role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

By Livingston, Jonathan N.; Porter, AlexAndriA G. et al. | Negro Educational Review, January 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Prostate Cancer in Southern Black Men: The Role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)


Livingston, Jonathan N., Porter, AlexAndriA G., Bell-Hughes, Kristen, V, Brandon, Dwayne T., Negro Educational Review


In the United States, there were an estimated 238,590 new cases of prostate cancer and an estimated 29,720 deaths for the year 2013 (National Cancer Institute, 2012). In addition, approximately one in six men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime (ACS, 2013a). Risk factors including age, family history, and race are found to increase the likelihood of being diagnosed with prostate cancer (Center for Disease Control [CDC], 2013). Medical experts have found a higher prevalence of this disease in some races in comparison to others. According to the CDC (2012), Black American men have the highest incidence and death rates compared to any other racial group. Although prostate cancer is more likely to occur in men 65 years of age and older (ACS, 2013a), a disproportionate number of Black American men are diagnosed at a younger age (Hamilton, Aronson, Presti Jr., Terris, Kane, & Freeland, 2007). In addition, men with a family history of prostate cancer are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer themselves (CDC, 2013). In 2009, the death rate for Black American men diagnosed with prostate cancer was approximately 50 per 100,000 persons, a frequency of 30 to 40 more persons per 100,000 than any other race (CDC, 2012).

Prostate Cancer and Black American Men

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death among Black American men (CDC, 2012). One in five Black American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime as reported by the American Cancer Society (2013b). According to the American Cancer Society (2013a), Black American males are 70% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than White American males, and approximately two times more likely to die from this disease (National Cancer Institute, 2012; CDC, 2012). Medical experts report early detection of prostate cancer improves the chance of successful treatment (Mayo Clinic, 2018). However, due to delay in detection, prostate cancer is often more advanced and aggressive in Black American men (CDC, 2012). In a study by Stokes et al. (2013), Black American men were found to delay their treatment following diagnosis longer than their White American counterparts. Research shows factors such as physical inactivity, lack of healthy diet, and inadequate access to healthcare influence incidence rates among Black Americans (ACS, 2013b). Socioeconomic status is a major determinant in access to health care resources. More specifically, 25% of Black Americans live below the poverty line while 19% are without insurance, thus impacting their rates of prostate cancer (ACS, 2013b).

Research shows elevated mortality rates among Black American males in the South Atlantic region compared with other geographic locations in the United States (Jemal, Kulldorff, Devesa, Hayes, Fraumeni, 2002) In a study done by Data, Chen, Kosheleva, & Glymour (2010) Black American males who lived in the southern part of the United States had a 19% higher mortality rate for prostate cancer compared to other Black American men. Moreover, North Carolina ranked 5th in the United States; having the highest death rate of prostate cancer between the years of 2003 and 2007 (ACS, 2013b). In a study conducted at Duke University Medical Center (Duke Medicine News and Communications [DMNC], 1998), researchers assessed whether differences in treatment options were related to the increase in prostate cancer mortalities among Black American men. Findings from the study revealed that treatment options were not related to this increase. However, researchers are investigating screening processes, occupation, lifestyle, diet, and family history to further examine the role of genetic and environmental influences (DMNC, 1998).

Researchers reported that Black American men are more likely than White American men to have their prostate cancer return after treatment, finding higher levels of prostate-specific antigen (Hamilton et al. …

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