Shock new stat for Black men cancer risk

  • 17 October 2013

One in four Black men in UK will get prostate cancer

A shocking new figure released in Black History Month by the health charity Prostate Cancer UK reveals that one in every four Black men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in his lifetime*. That’s double the overall 1-in-8 cradle-to-grave risk faced by all men in the UK.  

“It’s like Russian Roulette but with only four players chancing the bullet. This statistic is a wake-up call to Black men about the unique danger they face - and we’re warning them to act on it. Fathers, brothers, partners, sons - with every fourth Black man or boy in the UK destined to get this potentially fatal disease at some time, it’s vital that everything possible is done to identify and catch aggressive cancers early”, said Cordwell Thomas, who heads Prostate Cancer UK’s partnership with Britain’s African and African Caribbean communities.

Calculation of the specific lifetime risk to Black men was undertaken by Prostate Cancer UK as part of its continuing drive to support the men of Britain’s two million strong African and African Caribbean population in recognising both the threat to their prostate health and their responsibility to be proactive in seeking out advice and support.  

Cordwell Thomas continued:

“Many health professionals are not even aware that Black ancestry is a prostate cancer risk factor. What’s more, Black guys often don’t claim their rights to health care. They’re not first in line to see the GP or to call our helpline to discuss concerns like erectile dysfunction or problems peeing. With so many lives at risk, we all have to work together to ensure that Black men wise up to the issue and those affected seek and receive appropriate healthcare.”

With the backing of its major funding partner, Movember, Prostate Cancer UK provides support to thousands of men facing prostate cancer and it has consistently emphasised the higher risk faced by Black men. The urgent need to help Britain’s Black communities act upon their raised risk means Prostate Cancer UK is bringing together the community leaders and clinicians who can encourage Black men to face up to their heightened prostate cancer risk, engage with it, and take the necessary action.

“It’s your life and the message is know your risk and know your responsibility. It’s about taking charge of your own health. As a Black man, you’re already in a high risk group, so the worst thing to do is to ignore the risk. Confront it, speak to your wife, partner or friends about it, and consult your GP over whether a test is advisable in your case. Even when you have no actual symptoms, you are entitled to a test if you are over 50 and have spoken to your GP”, says Cordwell Thomas.

Football legend, sports broadcaster and ambassador for Prostate Cancer UK, Mark Bright said:

“I’m a black man and I am over 50. My risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is significantly higher than that of a white man of the same age.  Now we know that one in four black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some time in his life, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to take responsibility for our health and understand our risks.

“If you’re a black man and over 50, speak to your GP or call the Prostate Cancer UK helpline  to find out about your risk and what you can do about it.”

Prostate Cancer UK volunteer Phil Kissi MBE is a survivor of the disease:

“It is terrifying to think that I could so easily have carried on without knowing anything about prostate cancer despite it being the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the UK. Luckily my GP was very supportive when I raised my concerns with him and I caught the cancer in time to have successful treatment but it saddens me to think that others may not have this chance.

“Ultimately it is up to us men to respect and take responsibility for our health but I needed a lot of support from my friends and family,” he says.

“2013 is the 65th anniversary of the Windrush Landing. It is ironical that youngsters who arrived on that ship a whole lifetime ago and have won countless battles over the decades still face a major public health inequality based on nothing but ethnicity. That’s why Prostate Cancer UK puts in the research, services and support that will help more Black men like Phil to survive this disease,” said Cordwell Thomas.

If you have concerns about prostate cancer or the raised risk to men of black ancestry please call Prostate Cancer UK's confidential Helpline on 0800 074 8383 or visit www.prostatecanceruk.org. The helpline is free to landlines, staffed by specialist nurses, and open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday with late opening until 8pm on Wednesdays.

Read more about the risk in Black men and find out more about our work in the Black community.

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact Meredith Molony at Prostate Cancer UK: 020 3310 7188 / meredith.molony@prostatecanceruk.org

Notes to Editors:

*Statistic calculated by Prostate Cancer UK using the current probability method using PHE and ONS data for England and Wales. Read more about how this was calculated here

About Prostate Cancer UK

Prostate Cancer UK fights to help more men survive prostate cancer and enjoy a better quality of life. We support men and provide vital information. We find answers by funding research into causes and treatments. And we lead change, raising the profile of the disease and campaigning to improve care. 

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the UK.
  • Over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.
  • On average, one man dies every hour from prostate cancer in the UK.
  • As well as having Black ancestry, risk factors for prostate cancer are being over 50, or having a family history of the disease in close male relatives.