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Preventing prostate cancer in black men should be a community agenda

One in two: That is your lifetime risk of getting cancer for men. Women: One in three is your lifetime risk of getting cancer.

1 in 5 is your risk of dying from cancer.

20% of men are going to die of cancer.

Women your risk of dying from cancer is 1 in 6.

Black men have the highest rates of newly diagnosed cancer and of death due to cancer. That is significant. Lung, prostate, colon cancers are the big three.

When we talk about prostate cancer: Black men: Their rates are 2X higher to have advanced disease prostate cancer. In fact, when I was in medical school, they used to say that the chances of a black man living to age 65 or 70 and dying and NOT having prostate cancer is very small.

So it may not be clinically significant cancer, but that cancer is already starting to grow. So if I live to the ripe old age of 70 or 75, I may not die FROM prostate cancer, but chances are I will die WITH prostate cancer. That’s just how common it is among African American men.

So, armed with these facts? What do I do? What’s my move?

  1. The first thing I do is to get an annual exam, okay? Just a regular visit to your doctor once a year. The doctor will tell us exactly what we need for our age. I try to schedule it around my birthday.
  2. Get a blood test: PSA (prostate specific antigen), a blood test that can screen you for your risk of prostate cancer.
  3. I share the information very generously with my two brothers who are over 50, with my loved ones and with my friends. Information is wealth.
  4. I encourage the community, much like all of you, to take action. This is a call to action. This is a community agenda. It requires community activation, conversations and participation.

(**You forgot: This is not an academic agenda. This is a community agenda. As such, it requires community conversations, community activation, and community participation.)

As a black man committed to health and wellness and longevity, as any black man who is committed to health and longevity and wellness, and the wellness of their family, we have to get involved. This is not a passive issue. We have to get involved and we have to stay involved.

I encourage you to stay active and take whatever nugget of information you learn today, take it back to your community. Take it back to your family and we can make a difference one person at a time, one factoid, and most importantly, one action at a time.

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