About the risk in Black men

We answer some of the questions you might have about how prostate cancer affects Black men. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer or you have concerns you can speak to our Specialist Nurses on our confidential helpline.

1. In Black men, what are the chances of being diagnosed with prostate cancer?

1 in 4 Black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

2. Does this mean that 1 in every 4 Black men today will have prostate cancer?

No. Lifetime risk means the risk that someone has of being diagnosed with the disease at some point during their life.

3. Who do we mean when we say ‘Black’ men?

The 1 in 4 lifetime risk 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 have enough data about this group in the records.

4. Does this new statistic mean that Black men have an even higher risk of developing prostate cancer than previously thought?

No, the risk is still the same, but we have a clearer way to tell men about it. 

We already knew that Black men had the highest risk of developing prostate cancer among all ethnic groups, and that they were three times more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to white men of the same age. This information is still correct – it is just a different way of explaining a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer.

Find out more about how our experts worked out this new statistic

5. Why do Black men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer?

Research is being done to find out, but so far no definite reasons have been found.

We do know that higher rates of prostate cancer are seen in men of African descent across the UK, US, Caribbean and West Africa, and this could suggest a genetic link between these men and their prostate cancer risk.

Other factors, such as diet, could also affect the risk of developing prostate cancer. Increasing age is the most important risk factor.

6. How many Black men are diagnosed, or living, with prostate cancer?

We know that, in the UK, about 250,000 men are currently living with and beyond prostate cancer but we do not know how many of these are Black men. This is due to lack of data on patient ethnicity, and work is on-going to improve collection of this information throughout the health care system.

7. Having a close male relative with prostate cancer increases your risk by 2.5 times. What does that mean for a Black man – who already has a raised risk?

The 1 in 4 lifetime risk is an average risk and applies to all Black men regardless of whether they have a relative with prostate cancer or not. This is because the data used to calculate this risk included Black men who have close relatives with prostate cancer, and those who don’t. So the average lifetime risk remains 1 in 4, but each man’s individual’s risk might be slightly higher or lower than this average, depending on other risk factors –  such as having a close relative or not, and his age.

8. What should I do next?

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50 and risk increases with age. All men aged over 50 are entitled to have a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test as long as they have first talked through the pros and cons with their GP.

However, some men do develop prostate cancer at a younger age than 50.  So if you are in your 40’s and you are worried about prostate cancer because you are in a high risk group or have symptoms, visit your GP or speak to one of our Specialist Nurses on our confidential helpline, to discuss whether a test is right for you.

9. What is Prostate Cancer UK doing to address prostate cancer within the Black community?

Prostate Cancer UK provides information and support to all men affected by prostate cancer.  We carry out research to understand how prostate cancer impacts on the Black community and we will be investing in research to build our knowledge of why Black men are more likely to develop this disease.

We also work closely with the Black community to deliver activities that inform men of their risk, and support them to act on any concerns or questions they have about prostate problems or prostate cancer as soon as possible.

We recently launched the Partnering for progress programme, working closely with organisations and individuals in the Black community to build an ambitious programme for addressing prostate cancer in this community.

Read more about our work in the Black community

This statistic was released on 17 October 2013. See our press release here.