Newswire (Published: Thursday, June 29, 2017, 8:41:00 PM CDT, Received: Friday, June 30, 2017, 7:00:27 PM CDT)

Word Count: 569


A new study indicates that higher prostate cancer death rates among black men in the United States may be due to a higher risk of developing preclinical prostate cancer as well as a higher risk of that cancer progressing more quickly to advanced stages.1

The study suggests that screening policies may need to be tailored to the higher-risk status of this population.

Among black men in the United States, the incidence of prostate cancer is 60% higher than that of white men, and their mortality rate from prostate cancer is more than twice as high. To understand why, a team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Michigan, and Erasmus University in the Netherlands used three models of prostate cancer incidence and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening in the United States to estimate disease onset and progression based on prostate cancer data from 1975–2000 reported by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program of the National Cancer Institute.

The investigators estimated that by age 85 approximately 30% to 43% of black men develop preclinical prostate cancer—prostate cancer that is not symptomatic—a risk that is 28% to 56% higher than that among men of any race.

Among men with preclinical disease, black men have a similar risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer (35% to 49%) compared with the general population (32% to 44%) in the absence of screening. However, their risk of progression to advanced disease by the time they are diagnosed is 44% to 75% higher than in the general population (a 12% to 13% risk among black men versus a 7% to 9% risk in the general population).

“We found that the interval from getting preclinical cancer to being diagnosed is long—10 years or more on average—and is similar in black and white men. But during that interval, cancers in black men tend to progress faster,” says Ruth Etzioni, PhD, a senior author on the study. “What this means is that in developing screening policies for black men, it will be important to consider beginning screening them at an earlier age and potentially screening them more frequently than would be recommended by general population guidelines.”

Etzioni stresses that additional research is needed to determine the best policies for prostate cancer screening in black men.

In an accompanying editorial, Lauren Wallner, PhD, MPH, of the University of Michigan, and Steven Jacobsen, MD, PhD, of Kaiser Permanente Southern California, note that the study’s findings imply that the risk/benefit trade-offs of PSA screening may be quite different for black men when compared with the general population.2 “As the evidence is accumulating that a ‘one size fits all’ screening approach to prostate cancer may not be what is most appropriate, it may be time for the conversation around PSA screening to really focus on more personalized approaches to screening in high-risk black men,” they write.

For more information on PSA testing and the controversies surrounding screening and diagnosis of prostate cancer, view CLP’s webcast, “Critical Thinking for Early Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer,” which is now available for on-demand viewing.


  1. Tsodikov A, Gulati R, de Carvalho TM. Is prostate cancer different in black men? answers from three natural history models. Cancer. 2017;123(12):2312–2319; doi: 10.1002/cncr.30687.
  1. Wallner LP, Jacobsen SJ. Prostate cancer in black men: is it time for personalized screening approaches? Cancer. 2017;123(12):2203–2205; doi: 10.1002/cncr.30685.


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
University of Michigan
National Cancer Institute


North America
Western Europe
United States


Health and Wellness
      Medical Conditions and Diseases
                  Prostate Cancer
            Men's Health Issues
                  Prostate Cancer