African-American men are more at risk for prostate cancer

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Urologist Shawn H. Marhamati, MD, MS

June is Men’s Health Month. It’s a chance to educate and remind men to take better care of themselves.

According to the American Cancer Society, Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer among men (outside of skin cancer).

We asked Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Urologist Shawn H. Marhamati, MD, MS, to share some important tips about screenings and testing – to help men live their healthiest lives.

When should men start screening for prostate cancer?
Men should strongly consider being screened or at least discuss the benefits and risks of screening with their doctor between the ages of 55-75 and as early as 45 in African-American men or those with a history of prostate cancer.

What is a PSA test, and what does it entail?

PSA, or Prostate-Specific Antigen, is a simple blood test that measures the presence of PSA circulating in your bloodstream. This test is usually the first step in screening for prostate cancer.

However, the PSA screening by itself cannot tell you if cancer is present. Patients with elevated or rising PSA values should be referred to a urologist for additional screening tools such as a digital rectal exam, an imaging study called a prostate MRI, and additional blood testing such as a 4K score which can identify the patient-specific probability of finding an aggressive form of prostate cancer during a biopsy.

This information can help a patient and his urologist makes a shared decision on whether or not to perform a prostate biopsy.

The numbers of diagnoses and deaths from prostate cancer in African-American men are higher than ever – why is that? Is there anything men can do to keep this from happening?

African-American men are at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. One in seven African-American men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime. Overall, African-American men are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than white men. There is no clear reason for these differences. However, there may likely be a correlation between socioeconomic status and racial bias in preventative care. It has been found they are less likely than white men to be offered the option of having a PSA test.

To find a Primary Care Provider or Urologist, please call 1-800-SENTARA or visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.