Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other ethnicities. It’s really important that Black men know about this. We’ve been looking at how we can explain this risk in a clear way that men can relate to – this will help us raise awareness of prostate cancer and help men understand their risk. We’ve worked out that 1 in 4 Black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Here we explain how we’ve worked this out.

The 1 in 4 lifetime risk statistic was worked out using information about men recorded as ‘Black African’, ‘Black Caribbean’ and ‘Black other‘. We did not include ‘Black mixed’ as there was not enough data about this group in the records.

What do we mean by risk?

There are different ways of explaining a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. We already knew that Black men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men of the same age. This way of explaining risk is called relative risk and it means the difference in risk of one group of people compared to another. This information is still correct – it is just a different way of explaining a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer.

We also know that in general about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. This is a man’s lifetime risk of getting prostate cancer.

Lifetime risk means the risk that someone has of being diagnosed with the disease at some point during their life.

We know that people find lifetime risk a clear way of understanding their chances of getting a disease. So we decided to work out Black men’s lifetime risk of getting prostate cancer.

How did we work this out?

The Prostate Cancer UK Evidence Team worked out Black men’s lifetime risk of getting prostate cancer.

Our experts used different types of data about who gets prostate cancer and how many Black men live in England to work this out.

  • The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer, their ages and ethnicities in 2008, 2009 and 2010 (from Public Health England).
  • Information on deaths from all causes (not just prostate cancer) and the ages and ethnicities of men who died in 2008, 2009 and 2010 (from Public Health England).
  • Information about how many black men live in England and their ages (from the Census 2011 and from the Office for National Statistics).

What did we find?

Our experts used all this information to calculate Black men’s lifetime risk of getting prostate cancer.

We found that 1 in 4 Black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.  

How do we know this is right?

Working this out was hard – men’s ethnicity is not always written down on their records. So we did some extra calculations to make sure our findings are as accurate as possible. We also got other experts to check our findings, for example other statisticians working at Cancer Research UK and Public Health England.

If you’d like more detailed information about the lifetime risk statistic and how our experts worked this out you can request this by emailing evidence@prostatecanceruk.org.

We will regularly review our work to make sure that men get the most up-to-date information about prostate cancer risk.