Black History Month Sparks Focus on Black Men’s Prostate Cancer Rates: Survival Depends Upon Access & Screening

Op-Ed from the Men’s Health Network

February is Black History Month and while typically a time to celebrate the achievements of African Americans around the world, Men’s Health Network (MHN) is taking the opportunity to spotlight a recent study highlighting the deeply concerning disparity between black men’s prostate health and that of other men nationwide. Specifically, African American men have the highest prostate cancer morbidity and mortality rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S. And, while these statistics are certainly alarming, there is some good news to share from this recent study.

The study, published in the American Cancer Society (ACS) Journal, confirmed what many already knew – that screening and access to the medical system encourages better health outcomes for prostate cancer for African American men. Men’s Health Network (MHN) would add to that the fact that improvements in screening also promote higher survivability rates. Together, these tools – screening and access – can go a long way towards combating cancer and fostering real advances in cancer care overall.

The ACS Journal study found that men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the Veterans Administration (VA) health system did not “appear to present with more advanced disease or experience worse outcomes compared with Non-White Hispanic (NWH) men”. The ACS Journal study indicated this finding is in contrast to national trends, suggesting that “access to care is an important determinant of racial equity.”

Given that February is Black History Month, with its focus on those African Americans that have contributed so much to the world, it seems fitting to include a quote from Harry Belafonte who was treated for prostate cancer. Mr. Belafonte was quoted in Everyday Health as saying, “The prostate is something that attacks that central part of the male body that men are very preoccupied with. Somehow, any disorder there means your life is over, you can’t be a man anymore, you are now something less,” however, he continued, “If you’re going to have [prostate cancer], you’re going to have it. It’s what you do about it that makes the difference — how you conduct your life.”

MHN agrees with Mr. Belafonte about action being vital to the successful treatment and overall good health outcomes related to prostate cancer. Taking action to get screened for this cancer is an important first step toward ensuring better overall survival rates. And, access to health care is also a factor in recovery and survivability. Together – screening and access – are powerful tools to combat prostate cancer.

For more information about prostate cancer – and other issues affecting men’s health – please visit the Prostate Health Guide at and celebrate Prostate Cancer Awareness Month  in September.

Remember to Get It Checked.

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