Despite the fact that Black men are disproportionately affected by higher prostate cancer incidence and mortality than their non-Black counterparts, studies have shown that they are less likely to have discussions with their physicians about prostate cancer screening. Because the recommended age of screening for men is 55 years old, this study sought to determine if men younger than 55 were receiving any education regarding prostate cancer screening and if these results differed by race/ethnicity.
Questionnaire results found that among these younger participants, only 4.3% had heard about prostate cancer screening from a physician. Another 2.7% of patients mentioned hearing from their physician that they were not sure if prostate cancer screening saved lives. While more Black and Hispanic participants were likely to have had or been told about prostate cancer screening, they were also more likely to receive mixed or incomplete messages about screening.
This miscommunication included an absence of a discussion about the potential benefits and harms of screening and a lack of confidence in its efficacy in saving lives. These omissions could be related to lower screening rates among minority men, as these tests may be downplayed to this population before they reach the target age of screening.
Because COVID-19 has led to a decrease of non-essential medical visits, screening has significantly dropped, which is an added confounding variable in the obstacles Black men and other minority men face in receiving prostate cancer screenings. As a result, communication on the importance of screening between providers and minority patients is critical.
While the burden often falls on the patients themselves, this research implies that the physician must bear responsibility in clearly educating patients on the benefits of screenings even before they hit 55 years of age .
Source: Miller, D. B., Markt, S. C., Nguyen, C. T., & Coleman, O. C. (2021). Prostate Cancer Screening and Young Black Men: Can Early Communication Avoid Later Health Disparities? Journal of Cancer Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-021-01984-6