Epidemiology and pathophysiology of prostate cancer in African-American men

J Urol. 2007 Feb;177(2):444-9. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2006.09.024.


Purpose: Along with increasing age and a positive family history subSaharan African ancestry has long been recognized as an important risk factor for prostate cancer. In the United States the incidence of prostate cancer is approximately 60% higher in African-American than in European-American men and the mortality rate from the disease is more than twice as high. The purpose of this review article is to examine specific reports highlighting racial disparity and its possible causes.

Materials and methods: The reports chosen for review of this epidemiology and pathophysiology study were included to demonstrate conditions in which racial differences as well as similarities exist in African-American and European-American men. Reports also include autopsy, biological and clinical studies, and early and late stage prostate cancer.

Results: From the 1970s to the current statistical analysis of the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program African-American men have continued to have a significant higher incidence and mortality rate than European-American men. Autopsy studies show a similar prevalence of early small subclinical prostate cancers but a higher prevalence of high grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia. Clinical studies show a similarity in prostate cancer outcome when pathological stage is organ confined but a worse outcome when disease is locally advanced and metastatic in African-American vs European-American men. There is increasing genetic evidence that suggest that prostate cancer in African-American vs European-American men may be more aggressive, especially in young men.

Conclusions: Improving the outcome in African-American men with prostate cancer requires awareness of the epidemiological patterns of the disease and willingness on the part of physicians to implement targeted study initiatives with end points designed to detect the disease early in this population and begin appropriate management. It is proposed that a multi-institutional study should be done to demonstrate the ability to decrease racial outcome disparity by education, aggressive testing and treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*