• African American men;
  • prostate cancer screening;
  • health disparities;
  • hereditary prostate cancer



There are scant data available on prostate cancer screening among high-risk African American men with positive family histories. It is important to determine whether or not their screening rates differ from those in the general population.


This study computed rates of previous digital rectal examination (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer in cancer-free (unaffected) relatives age 40–69 years from African American families that had four or more men with prostate cancer. The rates for these 134 high-risk African American men from the African American Hereditary Prostate Cancer Study (AAHPC) were compared with nationwide estimates obtained from participants in the 1998 and 2000 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), for which the numbers of demographically comparable subjects were 5583 (4900 Caucasians, plus 683 African Americans) and 3359 (2948 Caucasians, 411 African Americans), respectively.


Men in the AAHPC cohort (with a strong positive family history) had significantly less screening than both African Americans and Caucasians in the NHIS cohorts. Only about one-third (35%) of the men in the AAHPC unaffected cohort had ever had a DRE, and only about 45% of them had ever received a PSA test. These rates were much lower than those obtained for African American men in the NHIS: 45% for DRE and 65% for PSA. These discrepancies increased with age.


Older African American men with positive family histories report surprisingly low rates of DRE and PSA screening compared with their counterparts in the NHIS surveys. At-risk men need to be informed of the benefits and limitations of prostate cancer screening and actively involved in decision-making for or against prostate cancer screening. Cancer 2006. © 2006 American Cancer Society.