African American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. (Courtesy photo)

As part of improving men’s health, it’s imperative to understand the importance of early detection and treatment for prostate cancer, the second most common cancer among men after skin cancer. 

Dr. Reza Goharderakhshan, chief of urologic surgery at Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center, noted that African American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. He added the risk of prostate cancer rises among men after age 50, noting the first step to surviving prostate cancer is through an annual PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test recommended annually for men ages 50-70.  

This simple blood test can be the difference between life and death as far as prostate cancer is concerned, Dr. Goharderakhshan said. It’s especially important for men with a family history of prostate cancer, and for Black men, whose risk of dying from prostate cancer is double that of men of other races.” 

“The screening for prostate cancer becomes more critically important as men get older, even when there are no clear symptoms,” Dr. Goharderakhshan said. “Because prostate cancer is treatable in its early stages when it comes to prostate health, I encourage men not to ignore this health issue and to discuss with their doctor if PSA testing is a good idea.” 

This year, it’s estimated that 268,490 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to Furthermore, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the U.S.  

It’s important to know that prostate cancer typically does not have symptoms until in its later, more advanced stages, Dr. Goharderakhshan said. Those symptoms include back pain, swelling of the legs, weight loss, and difficulty urinating. That’s why detecting it early through a PSA blood test is critical. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 12 out of 100 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. However, if detected early – and with proper treatment – most men can survive prostate cancer. 

According to Dr. Goharderakhshan, the following factors can elevate the risk of prostate cancer among men: 

  1. Presence of close male members of the family who had prostate cancer. 
  2. Inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1/BRCA2 genes and Lynch syndrome. 
  3. A diet high in red meats, processed foods, high-fat dairy and low in fruits and vegetables. 
  4. Obesity in some studies has been linked to more aggressive forms of prostate cancer. 

“The good news is that prostate cancer is highly treatable when detected early, with an excellent chance of cure,” Dr. Goharderakhshan said.