In the UK, 1 in 4 black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, double the 1 in 8 risk faced by all men. We don’t know why, but you can help Prostate Cancer UK find out why.
At the moment we (Prostate Cancer UK) don’t know why black men and men with a family history have a higher risk of prostate cancer. We do know it’s linked to genes.
Understanding your risk factors can save lives, especially because prostate cancer often has no symptoms. The pandemic caused a huge drop in the amount of men being referred to a specialist for suspected prostate cancer. This means thousands of men have undetected cancer, and existing health inequalities are getting worse.
That’s why we launched our thirty-second risk-checker. Last month, with your help, we advised over 60,000 men at higher risk to speak to their doctor. This is a great achievement, but it’s now crucial that we reach more black men.
We need to help black men at higher risk to speak to their doctor, and we need to help scientists understand how genes influence risk factors so we can find better ways to diagnose and treat prostate cancer. Here’s what you can do to help right now:
- Share our risk-checkerto help black men at higher risk to speak to their doctor.
- Share a study to understand why black men are at higher risk to help find participants.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer can develop when cells in your prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way. Prostate cancer often grows slowly and may never cause any problems. But some prostate cancer grows quickly and has a high risk of spreading. This is more likely to cause problems and needs treatment to stop it spreading.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a gland. Only men have a prostate. The prostate is usually the size and shape of a walnut. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube men urinate (pee) and ejaculate through. The prostate’s main job is to help make semen – the fluid that carries sperm.
Does prostate cancer have any symptoms?
Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the risk factors too. Prostate cancer is most common in men over 50. Black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer have a particularly high risk and may want to speak to their GP from the age of 45, even if they don’t have any symptoms.
Some men with prostate cancer may have difficulty urinating. Men with prostate cancer that’s spread to other parts of the body might have pain in the back, hips or pelvis, problems getting or keeping an erection, blood in the urine, or unexplained weight loss. These symptoms are usually caused by other things that aren’t prostate cancer. For example, if you notice any changes when you urinate or have trouble controlling your bladder, this could be a sign of an enlarged prostate or prostatitis. But it’s still a good idea to talk to your GP so they can find out what’s causing them.
Why are black men at higher risk?
We don’t know why black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. But it might be linked to genes. Genes are sets of instructions inside every cell in your body and are inherited from your parents.
To better understand why black men are at higher risk of prostate cancer we’re funding the PROFILE study in partnership with Movember. If you’re a man of African or Caribbean descent aged 40-69 and haven’t had prostate cancer, you may be suitable to take part in this study. Find out more about how you can get involved at prostatecanceruk.org/riskresearch
What is the risk for men with mixed black ethnicity?
If you have mixed black ethnicity, you are likely to be at higher risk of prostate cancer than men who aren’t black. But we don’t know your exact risk because we don’t have enough information on prostate cancer in men with mixed black ethnicity. And we don’t know whether it makes a difference if it’s your mother or father who is black.
Check your risk in 30 seconds using our online risk checker, available at prostatecanceruk.org/riskcheck
If you’re a black man over 45, speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer.
You can find out more information by visiting prostatecanceruk.org or speak to our Specialist Nurses on 0800 074 8383.