African American Men and Prostate Cancer: The Need for Innovative Education by the Reverend Steven K. Wheeler, R.N., M.S.N. Minority Nurse Writer.
For such a small structure, the prostate gland can cause very big problems for men, especially black men. Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed forms of cancer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, when compared with Caucasian males, African American males are diagnosed much later and the mortality rate is 2.4 times higher.
Research has found that the differences in diagnosis and mortality are often due to African American males avoiding prostate screening exams, a lack of access to quality medical care, and other various health care disparities. Other studies have shown that Hispanics and African American men received less medical monitoring and had a longer time between their initial diagnoses to medical visits than their Caucasian counterparts.
African American males were also more likely to garner a "wait and see" approach as opposed to a more proactive treatment protocol.
Research has demonstrated that African American males in the military have a lower risk for prostate cancer compared to their civilian counterparts. When you look at the five most common barriers to prostate cancer screenings among African American males, you see an unfortunate use of the word "lack": lack of knowledge about the need for screenings, lack of insurance, lack of finances, lack of physicians to contact, and lack of culturally sensitive information about the availability of free screenings. As a clinician and health care educator, I have witnessed the suffering of African American patients in the hands of culturally insensitive caregivers. I have seen medical services offered to black males, but at inaccessible facilities, leading to poor attendance rates. I have seen black men reluctantly, uncomfortably discussing their conditions in unfamiliar situations with unfamiliar white facilitators.
I have found that African American men feel comfortable and empowered in sharing their stories about prostate cancer in nontraditional settings. It is imperative that we, as a community of educators, think outside the box and travel outside our comfort zones to educate individuals suffering from this disease. By doing so we can step into the lives of so many hurting people, bringing healing and wholeness where there once was pain and silent suffering.
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