PSA testing among black males here in America

It is well understood that African-American men and other “black” males of African ethnic origin are at greater risk for prostate cancer (at least here in America) than are non-Hispanic “white” males. What has been less clear is whether such black males are conscious of that risk and take appropriate action.

A new study by Sammon et al. in the Journal of Urology has now shown that younger black males in America do indeed appear to be increasingly aware of that risk and do indeed take appropriate action to monitor that risk.

Sammon et al. looked at the self-reported rates of PSA testing in black males and non-Hispanic white males (all aged between 40 and 99 years of age) using the 2012 data set from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). In particular they looked at data from 122,309 survey respondents and whether they had or had not received a PSA test within the preceding 12 months.

Here is what they found:

  • Of the 122,309 survey respondents in 2012
    • 29 percent of black males reported having a PSA test
    • 32 percent of non-Hispanic whites reported having a PSA test
  • Younger black males had higher PSA test rates and a higher odds ratio (OR) of PSA testing than their white comparators.
    • For men aged 45 to 49 years of age, OR = 1.66
    • For men aged 50 to 54 years of age, OR = 1.58
    • For men aged 55 to 59 years of age, OR = 1.36
  • For black males only, three other factors also affected the likelihood that they would have a PSA test.
    • Graduation from university, OR = 2.12
    • Regular access to a healthcare provider, OR = 2.05
    • Recommendation to have a PSA test from a healthcare provider, OR = 8.43

Thus, as Sammon et al. conclude:

  • Black males of 45 to 60 years old have a higher rate and  a higher probability of PSA testing than non-Hispanic white males of the same age range.
  • Educational attainment impacted the probability of having a PSA test more among black males than among non-Hispanic whites.
  • An association with a healthcare provider  or a healthcare provider’s recommendation to have a PSA test was significant but was actually less influential among black males than among non-Hispanic whites.

The good news would appear to be that younger generations of black males, and especially those with a higher level of educational attainment, are increasingly conscious of their risk for prostate cancer and are willing to take appropriate action to monitor that risk.


One Response

  1. This paper is consistent with informal impressions a number of us have discussed who have given out prostate cancer information at Marine Corps-sponsored health expos prior to marathons and half marathons in the Virginia and DC areas. These events, of course, tend strongly to attract health- and fitness-conscious individuals, but African Americans seem distinctly more receptive for information about prostate cancer, including informed PSA testing and active surveillance as an option for low-risk cases.

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