Four things all Black men should know

In the UK, 1 in 4 Black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their life. That’s double the risk for the general male population.

We’ve always known that Black men were at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer but by looking carefully at all the current evidence, we’ve been able to pin down the lifetime risk to 1 in 4. And we want all Black men to know about it.

One of the things we’re trying to do is raise awareness of prostate disease in the Black community in the UK and support Britain’s two million strong African and African Caribbean population in recognising both the threat to their prostate health and being proactive in seeking out advice and support.

Here are four things all Black men should know:

1. Black men have a higher risk of getting prostate cancer

We know there is an increased risk for Black men but we don’t know why and we don’t yet know exactly what we can do to improve Black men’s experience of diagnosis and treatment.

If you’re a Black man, do something to help yourself - know  your risk, where your prostate is, possible symptoms of a prostate problem – and what you can do if you’re worried.

“It’s your life and the message is know your risk and know your responsibility. It’s about taking charge of your own health,” says Cordwell Thomas who heads Prostate Cancer UK’s partnership work with Britain’s African and African Caribbean communities. “As a Black man, you’re already in a high risk group, so the worst thing to do is to ignore the risk. Confront it, speak to your wife, partner or friends about it, and consult your GP over whether a test is advisable in your case. Even when you have no actual symptoms, you are entitled to a test if you are over 50 and have spoken to your GP”

2. Prostate cancer isn’t a death sentence

It’s natural to hear the word cancer and think ‘that’s it.’ But most prostate cancer grows slowly to start with and may never cause any problems. Some men will have prostate cancer that is more aggressive and needs treatment straight away.

But the good news is that there are treatments to prevent or delay it spreading outside the prostate gland.

Prostate cancer is something that many men can live with.

3. ”A rectal examination isn’t great – but you can live with it.”

One of the possible tests for a prostate problem is something called a digital rectal examination (DRE). This is where the doctor feels your prostate through your back passage. They’re feeling for any hard or irregular areas and to check if it is enlarged. The DRE helps the doctor or nurse get the best idea about whether you have a problem that needs treating.

Men who have had the DRE say that it’s not that bad and doesn’t take long. 

Ally was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 and had a DRE at his GP surgery. He says, “when I had the DRE I thought - for a few seconds of discomfort I can live with it. It is something that I always say to guys - yeah, it is uncomfortable and it is not brilliant but if it is going to save your life, for a few seconds, deal with it. Don’t die of embarrassment.”

4. We’re here for you

If you’ve got any concerns about your prostate or prostate cancer – or just want to find out more – you can call or email our Specialist Nurses in confidence. Or, read our leaflet for African and African Caribbean men.

Or find out what we’re doing in Black communities in the UK and how you can get involved

Denton’s story

Denton Wilson was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 42

“I had no symptoms at all when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I had recently lost my father to the disease and that spurred me on to visit the doctor, as I knew the family connection meant I was more likely to develop the disease. I received treatment and have been living with prostate cancer for the last twelve years. My father’s death gave me life and now I use my time to raise awareness. It’s not always easy for men to talk about their health, especially in my community, so I give talks and hold information stands to get the message out there.”

Read this next:

A shocking new figure released in Black History Month by the health charity Prostate Cancer UK reveals that one in every four Black men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in his lifetime*. That’s double the overall 1-in-8 cradle-to-grave risk faced by all men in the UK. Read more

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