1 in 4 Black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, compared to 1 in 8 White men and less again (1 in 13) in men of other ethnicities. Our analysis has revealed that not enough is being done to address this, leading us to take both an awareness-raising and a research initiative in 2021.

Raising awareness of prostate cancer risk in men of Black ethnicity

We joined forces with cancer care provider GenesisCare to research the awareness of prostate cancer in the Black community.

Our research revealed that less than a quarter (24%) of Black men are aware of the higher risk that comes with Black ethnicity.

Our research also found that conversations could be crucial – and potentially lifesaving.  Those who speak about cancer with friends or family are four times as likely to recognise the symptoms (31% vs 8%) and more than twice as likely to receive an early cancer diagnosis (83% vs 43%). We teamed up with Linford Christie OBE, Olympian and Prostate Cancer Campaigner, to raise awareness and encourage conversations so that more men are in a position to make informed decisions about their health.

Raising Awareness of Prostate Cancer in Men of Black Ethnicity

Our Head of Research has spoken about the issue, alongside members of the community with direct experience of prostate cancer, on Channel 5 News, ITV West Country and London Live. Our campaign has also been featured in publications like The Mirror, The Sun and The Scottish Sun. We and GenesisCare will continue to do our part to raise awareness of the risks and encourage conversations within the Black community. These conversations are more important than ever as the pandemic has further impacted the number of men visiting their GP, in particular, Black men. A third of Black men say they were deterred from getting potential symptoms checked as they fear they may contract Coronavirus while visiting medical facilities (32%, vs 9% of white men). Further information on our campaign with GenesisCare can be found here.


We urgently need more research

Research is the only way that we will improve the situation for every person who is affected by prostate cancer.

Much more research is needed, not just to establish why Black men are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer, but also to understand if a person’s ethnicity plays a role in their likelihood to benefit from specific cancer treatments. More understanding is also needed of the societal differences faced by Black men with prostate cancer and the impact it has on their quality of life.

We do not yet know the full extent to which biology contributes to Black men being at higher risk from prostate cancer or how Black men respond to current and new treatments. There is evidence that biology plays a part, for example studies have shown that certain proteins known to be important in cancer are seen at different levels in African American and Caucasian American men. We want to fund more research in this area to fully understand these differences in order to unlock new treatments and diagnostics.

Our biology is not the only thing which affects our health. We also need to understand more about how about how psychosocial factors such as educational opportunities, healthcare access and quality, economic stability, social environment and sociocultural perspectives nutrition, and cultural background affect not only a person’s risk of prostate cancer but also how likely they are to be diagnosed and their approach to different treatment options We want to support more research in this area so that every individual, regardless of their background, has equal access to high quality care.

Cancer can also cause changes in how a patient thinks, their feelings, moods, beliefs, ways of coping, and relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. How the Black community experiences prostate cancer treatment and prostate cancer itself can be overlooked and we want to fund more research in this area to ensure this is not the case.

Our next funding opportunity: zeroing in on the disparity

We are committed to funding the gaps we see in the research ecosystem.

Last year we prioritised the scientific themes which our ecosystem analysis identified as areas where more research was urgently needed, such as why cancer spreads to bone and funding for early career scientists.

This year, we intend to fund a programme of research that seeks to address the racial disparity in prostate cancer and improve the situation for Black men.

Our ongoing funded research has the potential to improve outcomes for men of all ethnicities. We are taking direct action to improve the situation for the Black community in response to both the greater need in this area, and the fact that this research has been historically neglected.

How you can participate

There are a number of ways you can help us do even more

You can find more information on our racial disparity grant call here.

You can help us by spreading the word, so that more researchers and medical professionals bring their best ideas to us for consideration. If you are interested in submitting a proposal in the upcoming grant call, please visit this page to find out more.

We are committed to doing our part, but with support from individuals, donors, corporates and other charities, we can do even more. We are always happy to hear from partners who are interested in co-funding one or more projects, or in helping us to implement the findings from our research so that we can effect positive change. If you are interested in partnering with us and supporting this work, please contact our Head of Partnerships, Peter Harrison, at [email protected].

The grant call has been informed by a significant amount of research, and consultations with community members. We are still listening and we will be inviting people affected by prostate cancer, in particular members of the Black community, to come forward and be part of the decision-making process when we select the research projects which we fund. This will take place towards the end of the year and we will share more information closer to the time. If you are interested in participating in our patient review, please email [email protected] to register your interest. You can find more information regarding our patient engagement work here in the meantime.

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