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Are you at higher risk for prostate cancer?

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POSTED September 19, 2012 5:20 p.m.

(ARA) - Prostate cancer is a growing concern in the United States as an estimated 28,170 men will die of prostate cancer in 2012, making the disease the second leading cause of cancer death in men behind lung cancer. While any man may get prostate cancer, there are certain risk factors that may place you - or your loved one - at increased risk. In particular, African-American men have among the highest reported prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates. It is estimated that one in five African American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Grammy award-nominated musician and prostate cancer survivor Charlie Wilson and Janssen Biotech, Inc. have teamed up to raise awareness in the African-American community about prostate cancer and its disproportionate impact on African-American men.

“Prostate cancer takes a huge toll on the African-American community, and too many of us are afraid to talk about it,” says Wilson. “I know I was before I was diagnosed. But things are different now. I’m committed to helping others become more aware of prostate cancer and the medical and support resources that are available.”

Compared with women or any other group of men, African-American men are less likely to seek care and participate in health-related activities. Dr. Stanley K. Frencher, with the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program, encourages African-American men to proactively speak with their doctors about prostate cancer. Dr. Frencher addresses three common questions about the condition.

Q:. What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?

A: A man’s risk for prostate cancer increases if he:

• Is older than age 65.

• Has a father, brother or son who had prostate cancer.

• Is African-American, as this population is at higher risk than whites and Hispanics. Prostate cancer is less common in Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

• Has had pre-cancerous prostate changes, which can be a precursor to cancer.

• Has genetic (chromosomal) abnormalities, such as a certain altered or missing gene.

Some of these factors also may increase the chance of advanced prostate cancer specifically.

Q: What is a prostate cancer screening test like? Will it hurt?

A: There are several screening tests that may help detect prostate cancer before symptoms are present, such as digital rectal exams and prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing. The American Cancer Society recommends that discussions about conducting PSA testing for African-American men begin at age 45 due to their higher risk, while most other men without a family history are advised to speak with their physicians about PSA testing starting at the age 50. A few seconds of discomfort may save a man’s life and extend the time he gets to spend with his family.

Q: What is a common misconception about a prostate cancer diagnosis?

A: Men should understand a prostate cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Screening is the most common method for early detection of prostate cancer in asymptomatic populations, so it is critical that men speak with their doctors about prostate cancer and get tested if they and their doctors believe it is the appropriate decision.

For more information about prostate cancer visit, an online educational resource providing information specific to advanced prostate cancer and high-risk populations.

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