‘I’m determined to raise awareness of prostate cancer amongst black men.’

Prostate Cancer UK supporter Luke Williams shares his story to help raise awareness about prostate cancer and the new research that could make a difference for black menSecondary school teacher Luke was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015 at just 49 years old after his GP spotted a rise in his PSA level, which can be a sign of prostate cancer.Luke said:

“At first my GP put the increase down to the fact that I’m a regular cyclist which can causea higher reading than normal. However, I later saw a new GP, who decided to refer me for further tests to be on the safe side, which is when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.”

“I’m a healthy man, so when I heard that I had prostate cancer, it was hard to understand. I was aware that black men have an increased risk of prostate cancer, but since being diagnosed it made me question how my father died twenty years ago. I have since found out that it was in fact prostate cancer that killed him.”

“I have four brothers and so following my diagnosis and hearing about my father, I urged them to get checked for the disease.”

While there is no single test to diagnose prostate cancer, the first step is usually the PSA test. This measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood and can indicate if there’s a problem with your prostate. Because of their increased risk, black men are encouraged to start speaking to their GP about the PSA test from the age of 45 – five years earlier than other men.

It has long been known that black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. In the UK, 1 in 4 black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, double the 1 in 8 risk faced by all men. Black men over 45 and those with a family history are considered most at risk and are encouraged to speak to their GP, who can give more information or tests if necessary.Despite this, it’s still not known exactly why black men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than other ethnic groups.

That’s why a new study called PROFILE is aiming to find out more. The research is being funded by Prostate Cancer UK and Movember as part of the London Centre of Excellence and is being run by a team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.The researchers are looking at the genes of healthy men at higher risk of prostate cancer, including men of African or Caribbean descent and men with a family history of the disease. Over five years, they’ll monitor the men for signs of developing prostate cancer, using blood tests and scans.

Luke is now working to raise awareness of the increased risk of prostate cancer in black men and he hopes that more men will become involved in the PROFILE study to help find out more about the disease.He said:

“It’s so important that we know more about why black men are more likely to be affected by prostate cancer, and I hope African and African Caribbean men will consider being part of this study. The research they’re supporting could help all black men in future.”

To participate in the study, you should be:

 male, aged 40 to 69 years 

of African or Caribbean descent, and both parents and all four grandparents should also be from the same background 

prostate cancer-free when entering the study (you should not have had a prostate biopsy over the past year). If you have had a prostate biopsy(which did not show cancer) before but it was longer than one year ago, you are still eligible to take part. 

able to travel to The Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea, London or Sutton for initial assessment and for follow-up tests.

All travel expenses will be reimbursed. If you have any concerns about prostate cancer call Prostate Cancer UK’s Specialist Nurses on 0800074 8383 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Wed 10am-8pm).

To find out more about our research and how you can help visit prostatecanceruk.org/riskresearch

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