A young black man sitting in his home.

Prostate cancer risk in the Black community

Black men are at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer and are disproportionately impacted by the disease. That’s why Black men need to be vigilant about prostate cancer. 

What you need to know about your prostate cancer risk

While 1 in 8 Canadian men are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, we know that prostate cancer risk is higher for people of Black ethnicity. A recent survey showed that Black respondents had lower knowledge of prostate cancer and many were not aware that their community was at higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

In fact, Black men of African or Caribbean ancestry have almost double the risk of developing prostate cancer compared to non-Black men. They are also more likely to have prostate tumours that grow and spread quickly. Black men are also more likely to die from prostate cancer compared to other men. 

New research looking at immigrant men in Ontario found that those who immigrated from West African and Caribbean countries had higher prostate cancer rates than other immigrants and long-term residents. 

This is why it’s important to understand your risk of prostate cancer and take action to find it early. When prostate cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better.
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How can Black men be more vigilant ?

The best way you can be more vigilant about prostate cancer is by knowing your risk, the signs and symptoms and speaking to your healthcare provider. The earlier prostate cancer is found, the more likely treatment will be successful. When prostate cancer is caught early, close to 100% of men will survive 5 years or more.

Understanding your risk and the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer can be complicated. Prostate cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. The signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, like frequent urination, may also be a result of another health condition. That's why getting regular health checkups and talking to your healthcare provider about testing, is so important.

If you are a Black man under age 40, understand your prostate cancer risk and find out what you can about your family history of prostate cancer.

If you are a Black man in your 40s, make an informed decision about whether testing is right for you by talking with your healthcare provider.
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What to know about testing for prostate cancer

There are two tests available to you: the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and/or a digital rectal examination (DRE).

The PSA test is a simple blood test. The PSA test will inform you and your healthcare provider of changes in your PSA levels and if you should test more frequently in the future. Testing regularly will alert you to significant changes in PSA levels and may require your healthcare provider to perform additional tests to confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis.

The DRE is an exam in which a healthcare professional puts a finger into the rectum to feel the size and shape of the prostate and any unusual shapes or irregularities. The process may feel uncomfortable but is not painful.

Using these tests together is better than using either test alone. PSA testing together with a DRE may help find a dangerous cancer early when it is easier to treat. If a problem is found, more tests will be done to find out whether you have prostate cancer or another health problem.

If you are concerned about your health, give yourself peace of mind and reassurance by speaking to your healthcare provider about getting tested for prostate cancer.

If you know someone who might be at a higher risk of prostate cancer because of their ethnicity or family history, talk to them about their risk and how they can take action for their health.

We want to hear from you about what you've learned! Please complete our survey: 

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What are other risks for developing prostate cancer? 

Certain behaviours, substances or conditions can affect your risk, or chance, of developing prostate cancer.
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What are possible signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?

A change to your body might be nothing, but it might be serious. Only a healthcare provider can say for sure whether a change is prostate cancer. Get changes checked sooner rather than later.
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What do I ask my healthcare provider about finding prostate cancer early? 

Before you talk to your healthcare provider, find out what you can about your family history of prostate cancer. Take this list of questions with you to your next appointment. 
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What else do I need to know about finding prostate cancer early?

Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of death from cancer in men in Canada. When prostate cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better.
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Community Services

Community support can help people with cancer and caregivers with navigating cancer experience. Some Black community support organizations and groups in Canada with a focus on prostate cancer include: 

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The Canadian Cancer Society is thankful for the valuable advice and guidance of a working group from our Advisory Council to improve prostate cancer outcomes in Black communities in the development of this campaign and content. This multidisciplinary advisory council includes cancer patients, public servants, health professionals, and community leaders from across Canada.