How African American Men Decide Whether or Not to Get Prostate Cancer Screening

Randy A. Jones, PhD, RN; Richard Steeves, PhD, RN, FAAN; Ishan Williams, PhD


Cancer Nurs. 2009;32(2):166-172. 

In This Article

Myths and Misperceptions

Lack of prostate health knowledge also contributes to increased risk of prostate cancer mortality for African Americans. Often, what is known is distorted by myths and misperceptions. Richardson et al[16] conducted focus groups with asymptomatic low-income African American men to examine the myths that African Americans from low socioeconomic backgrounds held regarding prostate cancer. The investigators found that these African Americans did not perceive themselves to be at high risk of prostate cancer unless a close relative had the disease. The men were unaware of the relationship between race and the incidence of prostate cancer or the relationship between age and the onset of prostate cancer. Participants were also surprised that prostate cancer could be asymptomatic. Richardson et al[16] also found that some of the men believed prostate cancer screening involved a tube being inserted into the rectum to collect saliva. Finally, some in the sample believed that surgery (orchiectomy) was the only option for treatment, and it would inevitably result in erectile dysfunction. Similarly, Lange and Adamec[17] found that many men thought that only the elderly could get prostate cancer, and the cancer was always symptomatic. Saltus[18] found that some thought stress caused cancer, and positive thinking would cure the disease. These data suggest that there is a great need for men to be correctly informed about prostate health and procedures/testing.


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