African American men suffer the highest prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates among men of all racial and ethnic background in the United States. This racial disparity is the largest for any major cancer and all African American men are deemed to be at high-risk for prostate cancer.
While the African American prostate cancer mortality rate is 2.5 times greater than for men of other ethnic and racial groups, the mortality rate declined by 40% from 1992 to 2010 according to data published by the National Cancer Institute. Most studies attribute much of this decline to an earlier detection of the disease since the widespread use of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test.
There is ongoing debate and controversy surrounding the use of the PSA test. The "PHEN Consensus Statement on PSA Testing for African American Men for the Early Detection of Prostate Cancer" was published on September 18, 2013. This statement is the basis for PHEN's guidance as outlined here.
SUMMARY OF POSSIBLE BENEFITS AND RISKS OF A PSA TEST
POSSIBLE BENEFITS TO HAVING A PSA TEST:
1. A normal PSA test may put your mind at ease
2. A PSA test may find prostate cancer early before it has spread.
3. Early treatment of prostate cancer may help some men to avoid problems from cancer.
4. Early treatment of prostate cancer may help some men live longer.
POSSIBLE RISKS OF HAVING A PSA TEST:
1. A normal PSA test may miss some prostate cancers (a "false negative").
2. Sometimes the test results suggest something is wrong when it isn't (a "false positive"). This can cause unneeded worry or stress.
3. A "false positive" PSA test may lead to an unneeded prostate biopsy (tissue sample).
4. A high PSA test may find a prostate cancer that is slow-growing and never would have caused you problems.
5. Treatment of prostate cancer may cause you harm. Problems with getting erections, leaking urine or bowel function can occur.
This summary was excerpted from the Urology Care Foundation (The Official Foundation of the American Urological Foundation) publication titled: "To Test or Not To Test For Prostate Cancer - A Shared Decision Between A Patient And A Doctor."