African American men are at an increased risk for developing prostate cancer over white men and other men of color. One in six African American men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime. Overall, African American men are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with—and 2.3 times more likely to die from—prostate cancer than white men. African American men are also slightly more likely than white men to be diagnosed with advanced disease.
While there is no clear reason for these differences, several factors can impact cancer risk and outcomes in the African American community. Because of historical context, race in the United States is correlated with socioeconomic status, and lower socioeconomic status is correlated with increased cancer risk and poorer outcomes. African American men may also be harmed by racial bias in preventive care, as they are likely than white men to be offered the option of having a PSA test, and are more likely than white men to be told that the benefits of the PSA test are uncertain. Additionally, a recent study found that African American men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer were less likely than white men to receive any type of treatment for that cancer.
Fortunately, the racial divide for prostate cancer outcomes is narrowing. The prostate cancer death rate for all men has been decreasing steadily since the early 1990s, and from 2003 to 2012, this rate declined faster for African American men than for white men. Overall, the five-year relative survival rate for African American men diagnosed with prostate cancer is 97%, which means that if an African American man is diagnosed with prostate cancer today, at any stage, there is a 97% chance he will be alive in five years. When the disease is caught early, this rate increases to nearly 100%.