According to an academic paper titled “Racial disparities in Black men with prostate cancer: A literature review,” Black men are not only disproportionately affected by prostate cancer, but tend to present earlier, have more aggression in prostate cancer, and experience higher mortality rates.
African American men also have less access to care, and experience longer delays between detection and treatment compared to white men. However, there may be help on the horizon. BBC News reported that a British study showed that MRIs can be used to scan for signs of prostate cancer and are more accurate than blood tests.
Even though the sample size is small – only 303 men between the ages of 50 and 75 participated in the study – the study revealed that MRI tests caught prostate cancer that blood tests missed. Because the sample size is so small it cannot be accurately surmised that MRIs can be used in place of blood tests to detect prostate cancer
The organizers of the study are nonetheless hopeful that MRIs could be used to detect prostate cancer. Professor Caroline Moore, consultant urologist at UCLH and the chief investigator of the study conducted at University College London told BBC News: “Our results give an early indication that MRI could offer a more reliable method of detecting potentially serious cancers early, with the added benefit that less than 1% of participants were ‘over-diagnosed’ with low-risk disease.”
One of the study’s participants, 62-year-old Paul Rothwell had his prostate cancer detected early and treated as a result of being in the trial.
“If I’d just had the blood test I would be carrying on life as normal walking around unaware that there was some sort of ticking time bomb inside me of a cancer slowly growing, and by the time I did find out, presumably it would have been much harder to treat and much more dangerous to me.” Rothwell told BBC.
Unfortunately, Black men were not included in the study at a high enough rate relative to their risk factor for developing prostate cancer. Saran Green, another of the study’s authors, discussed this with the news platform telling them, “One in four black men will get prostate cancer during their lifetime, which is double the number of men from other ethnicities. Given this elevated risk, it will be crucial that any national screening program includes strategies to reach black men and encourage more of them to come forward for testing.”