Screening for prostate cancer in African Americans.
African American men are known to have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Historically, African American men have presented at a higher stage and had a worse outcome from the disease than non-African American men. There is an ongoing debate whether this disparity is due to biologic, environmental, or behavioral factors, or a combination of these factors. Furthermore, lack of access to care is implicated. Despite this debate, there is emerging data that African American men and their families are receptive to education and early detection. Encouraging data from the military, Veteran's Administration, and private sector suggest that African American men can have a similar outcome to non-African American men if diagnosed early and treated effectively. Early detection efforts depend on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing. This article discusses various options for using the PSA test to more effectively screen African American men. In general, testing starting at age 40 is recommended using an upper limit of normal for PSA at 2.0 to 2.5 ng/mL for men between 40 and 49 years of age. In older men, maintaining this lower PSA threshold is reasonable to optimize curable cancer; however, published guidelines of 0 to 4.0, 0 to 4.5, and 0 to 5.5 ng/mL in African American men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, respectively, are also recognized to balance the sensitivity and specificity of testing. Population-based prospective clinical trials of African American men are needed to further fine-tune the use of PSA in early detection, and to assess whether screening will improve the disease-specific mortality of prostate cancer in the population.
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