April is Minority Health Month
April is National Minority Health Month, a time when medical professionals across the country join together to raise awareness about the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minority groups throughout America. These efforts are made in the hopes of creating positive change through the delivery of health education and encouraging those who belong to an affected minority group to get regular health screenings to ensure early detection of the conditions that affect their demographic the most. In honor of NMHM, the experts at UCA would like to put the spotlight on prostate cancer in order to highlight the disparities affecting minority groups in regard to this particular condition.
PROSTATE CANCER IN MINORITY GROUPS
Prostate cancer is most commonly diagnosed in men over the age of 65, with symptoms such as frequent urination, erectile dysfunction, and difficulty when urinating being the most common. When detected early, prostate cancer is highly treatable, as the tumor is much more responsive to treatment in the early stages of the disease. In the United States, prostate cancer is ranked the second overall leading cause of death in men, affecting approximately 1 in 8 men in their lifetime. However, statistics show that prostate cancer is far more common in minority groups, as portrayed in the breakdown below:
In the last five years, the number of new prostate cancer diagnoses in African-American men is approximately 60% higher than the number of new cases in any other ethnicity. Most notably, statistics show that African-American men are 2.5 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than any other ethnicity.
In the Hispanic/Latino community, prostate cancer comprises nearly 1 in 5 new prostate cancer diagnoses each year, with incidence rates of advanced prostate cancer continuing to rise at a significant rate. In total, Hispanic/Latino men contribute to nearly 14,000 new diagnoses and 2,000 deaths annually in the United States.
Asian-Americans are the only minority group in America with cancer as the primary leading cause of death each year. While prostate cancer incidence rates are relatively low in Asian-American men, it is significant to note that when compared to prostate cancer incidence rates in Asian demographics worldwide, Asian-Americans rank the highest in prostate cancer diagnoses annually.
HEALTH CARE DISPARITIES IN MINORITY GROUPS
While genetics and lifestyle factors like diet and smoking play a role in the development of prostate cancer, the reasons why prostate cancer affects minority groups at a higher rate than white men essentially boil down to current societal disparities that affect minorities. In a recent JAMA Oncology study, a team led by the U-M Rogel Cancer Center analyzed data from over 300,000 prostate cancer patients in order to better understand what factors might be driving these outcomes. Ultimately, the data proved that the prostate cancer present in minority patients wasn’t necessarily more aggressive or harder to treat than the disease present in white men. Rather, the data showed that the majority of the minority patients analyzed in the study were consistently less likely to have access to health insurance and adequate health care, and thus less likely to receive regular PSA screenings that would ultimately lead to early detection.
In addition to not receiving regular PSA screenings, a number of the minority patients analyzed in the study also had conditions such as heart disease, liver problems, and obesity that went undiagnosed as a result of their lack of access to health insurance and proper health care. For example, African-American men have been observed to be at a higher risk for kidney and bladder cancer, but a lack of access to renal transplantation has been linked to poorer outcomes of the disease in this demographic. In addition, studies show that Latino and African-American men are at higher risk for erectile dysfunction due to their increased incidence rate of diabetes and heart disease, which both contribute to the development of ED.
The best line of defense for doctors and medical professionals is the delivery of accurate health education and spreading awareness of diseases like prostate cancer, kidney cancer and ED to communities. This is essential because it gives people the information and resources they need to take charge of their health and prioritize their well-being, especially those in lower-income areas and those in certain minority groups.
SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION WITH THE PHYSICIANS AT UCA
Located in Homewood, Alabama, UCA provides a specialized, holistic approach to men’s health for patients of all ages and backgrounds. Patients will find a team of knowledgeable, trusted urologists with a long history of providing the highest standard of care possible. Schedule an appointment by visiting the UCA Men’s Health Center website or calling 205-930-0920.