Black men twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as white men

In collaboration with the Press Association

UK scientists have found that black men in England have double the risk of being both diagnosed with, and dying from, prostate cancer at some point in their lives compared with white men.

“This new information will be incredibly valuable in helping men to understand their own prostate cancer risk”Casey Dunlop, Cancer Research UK

Conversely, the study found that Asian men in England have nearly half the chance of being diagnosed with and dying from the disease.

According to Cancer Research UK, this is the first time scientists have calculated both the lifetime risk of developing the disease and dying from it across different ethnic groups in England.

“At the moment we don’t know the reasons behind these differences. More research is needed to understand if this pattern might be due to finding more cancers, or more aggressive cancers, in different ethnic groups,” said Casey Dunlop, health information officer at the charity.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with around 41,700 men diagnosed each year.

Prostate Cancer UK, which carried out the research along with Public Health England, said the findings could help individuals better understand their risk of developing the disease.

The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, looked at incidence and mortality data for England from 2008-2010 across every major ethnic group.

The dataset included more than 25 million men, with over 100,000 prostate cancer diagnoses and greater than 26,000 deaths from the disease.

This allowed the team to estimate the lifetime risk of a man being diagnosed with prostate cancer. This was around one in eight (13.3 per cent) for white men, one in four (29.3 per cent) for black men (including black African, black Caribbean and other black) and one in 13 (7.9 per cent) for Asian men (including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and other Asian).

They also worked out that the lifetime risk of a man dying from the disease (as opposed to any other cause of death) was one in 24 (4.2 per cent) for white men, one in 12 (8.7 per cent) for black men and one in 44 (2.3 per cent) for Asian men.

But when they looked at the chances subsequently dying of prostate cancer among men diagnosed with the disease, there was no overall difference. White, black and Asian men with a prostate cancer diagnosis all had a one in three chance of dying from the disease, independent of their ethnicity, the researchers found.

Cancer Research UK’s Casey Dunlop pointed out that gaps in data collection for different ethnic groups in the UK meant that the findings weren’t definitive.

“There is a lack of ethnicity information in UK cancer data which means the study isn’t perfect, but at the moment these are the best estimates we’ve got,” she said.

“This new information will be incredibly valuable in helping men to understand their own prostate cancer risk.”

Prostate Cancer UK cautioned that each individual man's risk is different, and will vary based on a combination of factors in addition to ethnicity, such as age, family history of prostate cancer, and potentially body weight.

Lead author Alison Cooper, said: "We already knew that black men were more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than white men, however, the data we had was fast becoming out of date.”

She reinforced that these data should help men from different ethnicities better understand their risk of developing the disease.

References

  • Lloyd, T., et al. (2015). Lifetime risk of being diagnosed with, or dying from, prostate cancer by major ethnic group in England 2008–2010 BMC Medicine, 13 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12916-015-0405-5