MONDAY, Feb. 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Even though they are at the highest risk for aggressive prostate cancer, black men with a family history of the disease are least likely to be screened for it, even during the peak risk ages of 60 to 69, a new study finds.
"Healthy black men who have several first-degree relatives with prostate cancer are much less likely to have ever gotten a prostate screening than black men without a family history and white men in the general population," study co-author Dr. Sally Weinrich, a nursing professor at the Medical College of Georgia and a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar, said in a prepared statement.
The findings are published in the Feb. 15 issue of Cancer.
The researchers analyzed 1998-2004 U.S. federal health data, and found that just 25 percent of black men aged 60 to 69 received prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, while only 36 percent get annual digital rectal exams.
The study also found that just under 50 percent of all high-risk black males get PSA blood tests, and 38 percent get digital rectal exams.
In comparison, 65 percent of black men without a family history of prostate cancer get the PSA test, and 45 percent get digital rectal exams.
Rates were even higher among white patients: 81 percent of white males aged 60 to 69 get the PSA test, and 68 percent get digital rectal exams.
Not only do black men with a family history of prostate cancer have a higher-than-average risk, these "hereditary forms of prostate cancer are usually diagnosed at an earlier age than non-hereditary prostate cancer," Weinrich said.
"Black men have the right to be informed about prostate cancer screening options," she added. "We need additional research to study the reasons why black men with a positive family history have lower screening rates than black men in general."
Previous research found that black men have a 50 percent higher incidence of prostate cancer, and that their death rate from prostate cancer is more than double that of white men with the disease.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer.