WHY ARE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN MORE LIKELY TO DIE OF PROSTATE CANCER THAN CAUCASIAN MEN?
So now weíve established some of the causes of prostate cancer. But that doesnít explain the increased risk of cancer-related deaths in African-American men. African-American men have a higher adjusted prostate cancer death rate than Caucasian men: Between 1990 and 1996, 308.8 out of 100,000 African-American males and 208.8 out of 100,000 Caucasian males died from prostate cancer.
There are many potential causes for these inequalities. Although some hereditary cancers seem to be more common among African-American men, most cancers, such as lung cancer, are the direct result of environmental and lifestyle factors, as well as of lack of access to good health care. By learning how to take better care of ourselves, we may be able to reverse some of the statistics.
We donít pretend that reversal will be easy. Many cancers are more often diagnosed in a localized stage---that is, before theyíve spread---Caucasian than among African- American. This means that by the time an African-American men cancer has been diagnosed by a doctor, it may already have spread too much to be treated effectively. Early detection and timely treatment can increase your chance of survival.
But many African-American men are at a distinct disadvantage. They may develop cancers early because of poverty, lack of access to medical care, and discrimination. Clearly, if we were able to make environmental and social changes as well as increase our own knowledge and awareness of medical and preventive strategies, prostate cancer death rates would radically decrease among African-American males.
Hereís another problem that bears on cancer and race. There are indications that if a person believes he can get well, his chance of being cured may increase. But national surveys indicate that African-American males overestimate the deadliness of prostate cancer and the prevalence of cancer prevalence in there population. Additionally, African-American men are less knowledgeable about prostate cancer warning signs and screening methods than are Caucasian men. So it appears that what is needed to improve the cancer picture among African-American men is not only early screening but also better information since, in this case, information has both practical and psychological benefits.
But what can we do about these differences between the awareness and outlook of African-American and Caucasian men---differences that seen to account for the longer delay in seeking diagnosis and treatment among African- American and the greater occurrence among African-American more advanced stages of prostate cancer.
Because prostate cancer may be partially avoidable with proper diet, a healthy lifestyle, and by reducing a variety of environmental risks, there are two steps that can help eradicate these racial discrepancies, and both of them involve education. First prevention is the only cure with a 100 percent guarantee. Second, early detection can greatly increase your chances of surviving prostate cancer. By getting frequent checkups and specifically requesting diagnostic tests for prostate cancer, you can help your doctor determine if you have prostate cancer or if youíre at risk. You can also detect prostate cancer on your own by making it a habit to check your body for abnormalities frequently. If you notice any change in your energy level or if you see or feel spots, lumps, or physical symptoms that seen suspicious, ask you doctor about them.
Prostate cancer, as weíve mentioned before, is a very common cancer among African-American males. But there are many forms of cancer, often with unique methods of prevention and recommended treatment. Eating a high-fiber and low-fat diet, exercising regularly and reducing stress levels are simple was you can prevent or control the spread of most cancers. Early detection also greatly increases your change of being cured, so watch your body closely, every day, for any changes that may indicate a problem. In the early stages of many cancers, you may not experience any symptoms at all because many of them donít appear until the disease is more advanced. Because of that, itís important to see your doctor for regular checkups.
We donít know whether the high rate of prostate cancer among African-Americans is due to genetic or environmental factors, Some medical experts suggest that eating a high-fat diet may contribute to this disease. Others argue that more Africa-American men suffer from this disease than Caucasian men because of differences in access to medical care, early detection, and awareness of treatment strategies.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MCRAE PROSTATE CANCER AWARENESS FOUNDATION CALL. 334-727-7609 OR E-MAIL MCRAEPCAF@aol.com
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