Page last updated at 23:04 GMT, Monday, 29 September 2008 00:04 UK

Black men in raised prostate risk

Emma Wilkinson
Health reporter, BBC News


Phil Kissi's advice for people who may have prostate cancer

Black men living in England have a three times higher risk of prostate cancer than white men, figures show.

They also tend to be diagnosed five years younger, a study of all cases in London and Bristol found.

The results cannot be explained by access to diagnostic tests, awareness of the condition or screening, the British Journal of Cancer reported.

Cancer charities said the finding may lead to better care for men at higher risk of the disease.

Researchers at the University of Bristol said the US had already reported a higher rate of prostate cancer in black men.

There's very few known risk factors for prostate cancer but it's starting to look like being of black race is a risk factor
Dr Chris Metcalfe

In the UK study, it was initially unclear whether there was a "genuinely" higher rate of prostate cancer in these groups or whether they were more likely to be diagnosed.

But when they looked in detail at hospital records they found black and white men had similar levels of knowledge about prostate cancer, similar symptoms and similar delays before they went to their GP.

However, there was some evidence that black men were more likely to have had a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test before they had any symptoms.


On why black men could be being diagnosed earlier, the researchers said prostate cancer at a younger age was more likely to be due to greater biological susceptibility to the disease.

The researchers are now doing further work to see if there are any differences in survival between the two groups.

Studies looking at whether PSA should be used as a routine screening test are also being done and it may be that it is recommended for some high risk groups but not everyone.

Study leader Dr Chris Metcalfe said this was the first evidence from the UK on differences between black and white men in rates of prostate cancer.

"One of the possibilities based on anecdote was that black men may delay presentation - so the cancer gets to a later stage.

"If anything the evidence showed black men were presenting sooner."

He added: "There's very few known risk factors for prostate cancer but it's starting to look like being of black race is a risk factor."

Dr Joanna Peak, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said prostate cancer was the most common cancer in UK men.

"The study indicates that there is a true biological difference between ethnic groups and this knowledge could potentially lead to improved care for men at higher risk of developing prostate cancer."

Anna Jewell, from The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "We would encourage all men to visit their GP if they are experiencing any possible symptoms of prostate cancer such as problems when urinating.

"This strongly demonstrates the need for continuing work to raise awareness of the higher risk of prostate cancer in black men.

"We would like to see further research investigating whether there are any differences in access to treatment or care for prostate cancer between black and white men to help us understand how we can meet the needs of those most at risk from the disease."

Prostate cancer services 'vary'
11 Mar 08 |  Health

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