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Med Clin North Am. 2005 Jul;89(4):805-16.

Minority issues in prostate disease.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, MC 7845, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA.


This article has discussed the increased incidence and disproportionately increased mortality of prostate cancer among African American men.Although the exact reasons are unknown, genetics may play a role, in addition to health care practices. Morbidity from other disease states, such as diabetes, obesity, or hypertension, may influence the overall survival of patients with prostate cancer. Current research tools will continue to explore biologic differences between the races; however, socioeconomic status and access to health care must not be overlooked. Several studies have demonstrated that similar disease stages and equal access to health care will result in similar outcomes. It is recognized that screening for prostate cancer will remain a controversial topic. Several influential professional societies recommend against screening and other professional societies endorse screening. Large-scale trials are currently underway hoping to answer this critical question. Since the advent of current screening tools, however, it seems that the overall mortality for prostate cancer has decreased and this cannot be ignored. Certainly, screening programs and clinical trials have traditionally had difficulty in recruiting minority participants, although more recent trials seem to be finding success. A primary care physician who is viewed as competent by their patients can certainly have a positive impact on their African American patients' willingness to participate in studies and screening programs. Most importantly, on the individual level, primary care physicians can provide a great service to their minority patients by offering educational materials on prostate cancer and by offering screening to qualified patients. The current American Urologic Association and National Cancer Institute guidelines recommend offering screening to all men age 50 and above. African American men or men with a first-degree relative with prostate cancer should be offered screening beginning at age 40. Proper screening consists of both a digital rectal examination to assess for asymmetry or nodules of the prostate and a serum PSA. Current recommendations are that individuals with a serum PSA greater than 4 ng/mL ora prostate nodule or asymmetric prostate should be referred to an urologist,where a biopsy can be performed easily in the office setting.The PSA cutoff of 4 has recently been questioned. A study by Thompson et al [31] evaluated 2950 men with a PSA of 4 or less with prostate biopsy.They found that the risk of prostate cancer in men with a PSA between 3.1 and 4 was 26.9% and that 25% of these men with prostate cancer had high-grade disease. All men found to have cancer had T1 disease. The clinical relevance of this surprisingly high rate of prostate cancer in men with a normal PSA is yet to be determined and is pending in studies on the ultimate effect of screening on mortality from prostate cancer. This information is not intended to confuse the issue, but intended to provide the most up-to-date information and allow for the best clinical decision making by the primary care physician. What can currently be recommended is if a patient is concerned about his possibility of having prostate cancer despite a normal PSA, a referral to an urologist to at least further discuss the issue may be in order. This may be especially true if the patient is African American or has a family history of prostate cancer at an early age.

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