The Labour MP for Streatham pledges his support to Prostate Cancer UK to help raise awareness among black men, who have double the risk of white men of developing the disease, as we continue to fund research into why this ethnic discrepancy exists.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna has pledged his support to Prostate Cancer UK in a bid to encourage more black men to break down barriers and speak out about the disease that kills one man every hour in the UK.
Coming on board for Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Month, the MP for Streatham in Lambeth wants to highlight black men's higher risk of prostate cancer – double that of white men – with a shocking 1 in 4 diagnosed and 1 in 12 dying from the disease.
"These statistics are incredibly concerning," says Chuka. "As a black man myself, I have had to wise up to the fact that I not only have a much higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer than a white man the same age, I am also in greater danger of dying from it."
But our most recent poll revealed 86% of black men in the UK are unaware of their heightened risk of the disease or the gland itself. The prostate gland is an important component of the male sex system, but 92% don’t know what the sex gland does for them, 62% don’t know where it is located in the body, and nearly a fifth (19%) are unaware they even have a prostate.
It's still not clear why black men face a higher than average risk of the disease, which is why Prostate Cancer UK is funding research to find the answers
"The fact that so many black men are totally oblivious to the danger they face from this killer disease is alarming and it must change," says Chuka. "It’s time we all start taking responsibility for our health – not just for own sakes, but for the sake of our sons and grandsons as well. Ignoring prostate cancer won’t make it go away which is why we must wise up to our risk and act on it."
Black men not only face an increased risk of prostate cancer, they are more likely to develop the disease at a younger age and are encouraged to have a PSA blood test from the age of 45, rather than 50 – the recommended age for other ethnicities.
"It's still not clear why black men face a higher than average risk of the disease, which is why Prostate Cancer UK is funding two key pieces of research in this area to help find the answers,” says Tony Wong, our Men at Risk Programme Manager. "Prostate cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence and more often than not, the disease can be successfully treated if it is caught early.
"Awareness of risk is the first step to saving a life. So if you are black and over the age of 45, speak to your doctor and encourage your fathers, brothers, uncles and friends to do the same. Don’t die of embarrassment."
"After being diagnosed with prostate cancer I found out that I wasn’t the only one in my family," says Godfrey. "Not only had my grandfather died from the disease, my father had been living with it for some time but preferred not to speak about it.
"Thankfully my prostate cancer was picked up at an early stage and I should make a full recovery but this notion of avoiding conversations about a disease that effects one in four of us must end.
"I have two sons – both of them now know that they face a higher risk – not just because of our ethnicity but also because of our family history. In the future, if they are unlucky enough to develop the disease, at least it will be picked up at an early stage when something can be done about it. That’s why talking about prostate cancer is so important."