The healthcare system has failed the black community. It doesn’t give African Americans the right tools or advice to deal with chronic diseases. When it comes to fatal illnesses, like prostate cancer, black men are more than likely to die from it due to a lack of resources from the healthcare system.
According to research, “One in six black men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime.” Even worse, African American men are forced to wait too long to get tested.
Unfortunately, these racial disparities exist because of a lack of access to specialists, poor doctor-patient relationships that can cause distrust, delays in their treatment plans, and living in a community that’s exposed to harmful environmental toxins.
Fortunately, there are several ways to change the end result.
The best way for male patients with prostate cancer to advocate for themselves is by asking questions. Getting clarity on your disease and the form of treatment can go a long way in saving someone’s life.
There are five important questions that black men who have prostate cancer should be asking at the doctor’s office. They include everything from early-screening options to whether or not you should consider laparoscopic radical prostatectomy surgery for your treatment plan.
1. Familiarize yourself with your family history
Studying your family tree can be one of the first steps in helping patients manage their prostate cancer better. In some cases, it can help them get rid of the disease altogether.
If the illness runs in your family, it’ll better prepare you to deal with the disease. Asking your family members questions about what medications helped them manage their prostate cancer could mean the difference between being sick every day and improving your condition. Even learning about their diet can be helpful as well. Research states that black men are at a higher risk of developing the disease if they’re obese.
It can be a difficult discussion to have with a family member but in the end, learning about your family history can help you better manage the disease.
Additionally, getting tested early yields more and better treatment options for patients with prostate cancer. If you’ve noticed common signs like painful urination or any type of pain in your belly and hip, get tested immediately. According to Afro.com, “Prostate cancer has a higher chance of being diagnosed in stage 1 of the illness.” However, that percentage drops if the cancer is detected at a later stage. Even worse, treatment options become scarce as the condition worsens.
3. How far along is my prostate cancer?
Not only can early screening lead to better treatment options but it’ll also tell you what stage of cancer you’re in. Knowing how far along your prostate cancer has progressed can be scary. However, understanding what type of prostate cancer you have can help you and your doctor better treat the disease.
4. Consider your treatment options
After receiving early screening testing, patients should ask about what treatment options would best suit their needs. Typically, treatment options are determined based on what stage of cancer you have. A common treatment plan involves active surveillance, which is usually used in cases of slow-growing cancer.
Other options may include radiation therapy, where doctors make use of highdose X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. Research reports that “Radiation comes from a machine outside the body or from the placement of thin plastic tubes containing radiation into the area where the cancer cells are found.” In other words, these treatments are effective in stopping or eliminating the disease altogether before it can even progress.
5. Do I need surgery?
Your treatment plans may also lead to having surgery done in order to remove cancerous tissue. Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is a less invasive surgery that involves the removal of a patient’s cancerous prostate. Not only does this surgery lead to less abdominal trauma and blood loss but also a faster recovery process.
Dealing with any chronic illness can be a daunting experience. However, living with prostate cancer doesn’t mean we have to stop living our life. Asking questions and advocating for yourself can help you manage the disease. It can even stop the progression of prostate cancer as well, leading to remission. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your doctor pressing questions about your condition. It could save your life in the end.