A recent study from the University of Exeter Medical School found that Afro-Caribbean men are less willing to be evaluated for prostate cancer than white men. However, these men have higher mortality rates and are more likely to have emergency diagnoses, even though the reason behind this fact is still not clear. The study was published in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP).
To assess possible effects related with patients’ preferences and choices, researchers evaluated over 500 men in Bristol who attended general practices. The project was supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC).
Realistic hypothetical scenarios were presented to men under evaluation, each one including a description of a symptom related to prostate cancer and an associated risk of disease. Researchers found that the preference for investigation, regardless the scenario, was lower in black men with only 44 percent of black males choosing to be investigated compared to white men (91 percent).
Dr. Tanimola Martins, the lead researcher, stated in a press release: “We know that black men are significantly more likely to develop prostate cancer, and are more likely to die from it. For the first time, this study has found evidence that black men are less willing than white men to be tested for the disease. GPs should be aware of the reduced appetite for testing in black males, which may be linked to fear and a perception that treatment may lead to severe complications. Doctors could consider proactively discussing the subject. Education targeted at the black community and the health professionals who treat them may also help to address this.”
Willie Hamilton, professor at the University of Exeter Medical School, talked about future steps. He noted: “We know that black people have worse outcomes with other cancers, particularly breast cancer. To address this, we need to understand the reasons behind that, and this could be a significant step on that journey.”
Jonathan Banks, co-author, concluded: “The findings help us understand some of the reasons why black males have a lower preference for investigation in prostate cancer. We hope these findings may lead to new ways to help educate the black community and the health professionals who treat them about symptoms and the importance of early investigation.”