African-American men understimate risk of prostate cancer

Many African-American men radically underestimate the likelihood that having a needle biopsy for suspected prostate cancer will result in a cancer diagnosis, according to a study from the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The researchers, who presented their results at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, say this is alarming. African-American men have a higher incidence rate, are diagnosed later, and have a higher mortality rate from prostate cancer than Caucasians.

"A group that underestimates the risk of having cancer is likely to underestimate the value of early detection and thus skip the whole process," said study author William Dale, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine/geriatrics at the University of Chicago, "which may explain, in part, why African-American men are so often diagnosed later and thus have worse outcomes."

Dale and colleagues collected data on what 243 patients expected from their biopsies and their anxiety levels while waiting in a urology clinic. The average age of these patients was 63. Almost 40 percent of the men were African-American. Fifty-six percent had at least a college education level.

Despite being referred for biopsy because they were known to be at increased risk for prostate cancer, usually due to a blood test, 55 percent of the African-American men at the time of prostate biopsy said they had a zero percent chance of having prostate cancer (i.e. that it was impossible). Only 20 percent of the Caucasian men said this.

Of the African-American men in the clinics whose biopsy results were available to the researchers, 70 percent were subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer (compared with 50 percent of the Caucasians). Those who had more anxiety about prostate cancer were less likely to have cancer than those who were less worried.

In general, although African Americans were less likely to believe they were at risk for c

Contact: Scot Roskelley
University of Chicago Medical Center

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