25% of Black men in UK will get prostate cancer

Black men in the UK are at higher risk of getting prostate cancer. A shocking new figure released by the health charity Prostate Cancer UK shows 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.   

Cordwell Thomas

“Many health professionals are not even aware that Black ancestry is a prostate cancer risk factor,” says Cordwell Thomas, head of Prostate Cancer UK’s partnership with Britain’s African and African Caribbean communities

“It’s like Russian Roulette but with only four players chancing the bullet,” said Cordwell Thomas, who heads Prostate Cancer UK’s partnership with Britain’s African and African Caribbean communities. “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.”

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.   

Mr. Thomas observed that “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.”

He said it was important for all “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.

“As a Black man, you’re already in a high risk group, so the worst thing to do is to ignore the risk,” Mr. Thomas said. “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.”

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.”

Mr. Bright encouraged all Black men over 50 to speak to their GP or call the Prostate Cancer UK helpline to find out about their risk and what they can do about it.

Phil Kissi MBE, a Prostate Cancer UK volunteer who is a survivor of the disease said: “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.”

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 Prostate Cancer UK’s website. 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.