September is Prostate Awareness Month

Why It’s Important to Black Men


By Senator Borris Miles
State of Black Texas in the Texas Legislature

Earlier this year, I passed Senate Resolution 453 to designate September as Prostate Cancer Awareness month to educate the public on early detection of this disease. This year, over 174,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, making prostate cancer the most frequently diagnosed cancer among men. The disease will kill about 1900 men in Texas this year. In Harris County, about 102 of every 100,000 males test positive for prostate cancer, a rate significantly higher than the state-wide average.

But what hits home is that this cancer disproportionately affects black men at rates that are 60% higher than white males for reasons that remain unclear to researchers. Statistical data has repeatedly shown that black men in the United States have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world. Age and race are the two greatest risk factors for prostate cancer, with black men over the age of 65 being at the highest risk.

While this data paints a frightening picture, there are ways to be proactive and protect yourself and our community:
1. Talk to your doctor and get screened
2. Know your family history and risk factors.
3. Help raise awareness in your community.

Early detection is vital. Catching prostate cancer in its earliest stage is the best way to ensure a swift recovery. However, prostate cancer is slow-growing and usually does not show symptoms until it reaches the advanced stage, making proactive screenings even more important. The American Cancer Society recommends that men should start speaking to their healthcare provider about prostate cancer beginning at the age of 50. The discussion should include reviewing family history, understanding the risk factors and getting screened.

Knowledge is power and early detection is essential. Black men are considered high risk for developing prostate cancer if they have close relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65. Men are considered very high risk if they have had several close relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 50. Additionally, the presence of certain inherited genetic conditions like Lynch Syndrome can also lead to a greater likelihood of developing the disease. Therefore, it is vital to know your family medical history for the presence of any of these risk factors and to inform your doctor immediately. Men with any of the risks listed above should discuss screening and early detection with their healthcare provider beginning at age 40 or 45, rather than 50.

While prostate cancer can be a frightening disease, it is curable if it is detected early. Do not let prostate cancer take control of your life. Get screened, learn your history, and spread hope!