This Men’s Health Month, celebrity voices have been harnessed to amplify the message that African American men are at a higher risk of prostate cancer than all other ethnicities.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) has used quotes and stories from black actors, broadcasters and musicians in its information booklet Prostate Cancer: Additional Facts for African American Men and Their Families.
“It was shocking for me to learn that African American men have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the US for most cancers,” says Hollywood star Chris Tucker, “and that prostate cancer is the number one diagnosed cancer among veterans.”
It’s imperative, he went on, that the black community understands the risks and does as much as possible to increase its chances of preventing the disease. Almost 175,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the US every year, and nearly 32,000 of them die from the disease.
While overall deaths of the condition have reduced by more than 50 percent in the past 20 years, the picture is very different among the African American community. Black men are 76 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their Caucasian counterparts and are more than twice as likely to die from it.
Early diagnosis and screening ‘key’
The PCF booklet offers a number of tips on preventing the disease, such as eating healthily and taking exercise, and outlines the importance of early detection and prostate cancer screening.
“Men – you think you are invincible, but you are not. Get to the doctor, get checked. It could make the world of difference for you and your family,” Tucker stresses. The resource, which is available on the PCF website, also highlights the role of raising awareness of the health disparity through conversation.
“This disease shouldn’t be swept under the rug. By discussing it with others, you can raise awareness of a disease that strikes African American men more than those of any other race,” it outlines.
“By starting a conversation about prostate cancer, you could be saving a life — possibly even your own.”
Musician and songwriter Charlie Wilson shared his own story with the advocacy group in the hope it would help others to talk about the condition. “I’ve spent the majority of my life performing for people around the world. It’s now time for me to start informing them,” he says, after revealing his shock at being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Too many men are dying from prostate cancer. Join the fight by making prostate cancer something to talk about.”
Hip hop legend Snoop Dogg has also put his name to the campaign, saying that tackling disparity in prostate cancer outcomes is “one battle we can win”.
“Since my good friend Charlie Wilson was diagnosed, I have learned how this cancer affects our community. For brothers, and for all men period, help get the word out about this disease,” he says.
Men’s Health Month runs throughout June. To find out what PCF is doing to mark the occasion, click here.