Prostate Cancer UK says GPs are ignoring black men

Time-stretched doctors are ignoring black men who face double the risk of prostate cancer, a charity warns.

Prostate Cancer UK said such patients are ‘slipping through the net’ because of the strain placed on GPs in the cash-strapped NHS.

Such pressures of working in the over-stretched health service mean many patients are at risk, with staff unable to cope with rising demand and slashed funding. 

This has meant many doctors are overlooking the heightened risk in black men as they try to fulfil their busy schedules, the charity said. 

Tom Wong, head of the charity’s Men at Risk programme, said doctors urgently need to address the problem to make sure patients are diagnosed ‘before it’s too late’. 

Prostate Cancer UK said black prostate cancer patients are ‘slipping through the net’ because of the strain placed on GPs in the cash-strapped NHS (stock)

He told MailOnline: ‘GPs in the UK today face growing pressure to start conversations with patients regarding an ever-growing list of medical conditions, putting increased strain on their time and resource. 

‘As a result conversations about prostate cancer risk are all too often slipping through the net. 

‘A black man faces the same risk of prostate cancer as a man who has a family history of the disease but awareness of the two risk factors amongst GPs is drastically different. 

‘We can all play our part by familiarising ourselves with the facts to make sure more black men are diagnosed early and treated before it’s too late.’ 

Mr Wong’s statement was made on the back of a survey of 402 doctors that Prostate Cancer UK commissioned.

What did the survey find? 

It found half of doctors to be unaware that men of African descent were twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as white men.

It also revealed only 7 per cent of doctors will initiate conversations about prostate cancer with black men.

They are also less likely to instigate discussions with black men, than those with a family history – despite the two risk factors being equally dangerous.


A breast cancer drug could be used to stop prostate cancer returning after tumours have been removed, a study suggested earlier this week.

The drug, used to treat breast cancer, acts by stopping tumours carrying out repairs to their own DNA – leading to cancer cells becoming weak and dying.

One of the main treatments for prostate cancer is anti-hormone therapy. This reduces levels of the male hormones that stimulates cancer cells into growing.

But one of the problems is that it has a side effect – stimulating the DNA repair mechanism in the cell. This can lead to surviving cancer cells becoming more aggressive.

But the breast cancer drugs called PARP inhibitors – if used together with anti-hormone therapies – can stop the repair effect, University of Surrey researchers found. 

Almost a third of the doctors taking part in the online survey were located in regions with large black populations.

A separate, smaller Prostate Cancer UK survey found 86 per cent of black men don’t know of their increased vulnerability to prostate cancer. 

Prostate cancer: The facts 

On average, around a quarter of black men will go onto develop prostate cancer during their lifetime compared with one in eight Caucasians.

As well as skin colour and having a family history, men aged 50 or over also face a heightened risk of developing the deadly disease.

Each year in the UK more than 46,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 11,000 die from the disease. 

It is estimated that around one in seven men will go onto develop prostate cancer during their lifetime.

Other bits of research

The survey comes after Harvard University research revealed that ejaculating 21 times a month can significantly reduce a risk of prostate cancer.

This is compared to those who release just four-to-seven times over the same time frame, the team of scientists said back in July.

The bizarre findings, published in the European Urology journal, remained true whether men achieved orgasm through masturbation or sex. 


The shortage of doctors comes despite the NHS adopting a plan in April to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2021.

Mr Hunt’s pledge of £2.4 billion was said to be the answer to the staffing shortage, helping plug the growing number of vacancies.

This money was devised to lure GPs to move to the worst-hit areas of England, and to stop them from seeking another career.

But the plan has yet to work, as a recruitment crisis continues to grow as numbers of doctors dwindle in recent years. 

Government plans to force graduate doctors to work in the NHS for four years after qualifying also appear to have been scrapped in order to combat the shortage.

Practitioners warned the policy, announced in October, may exacerbate the ongoing recruitment crisis within the health service.

The compulsory tie wasn’t mentioned in the Department of Health’s announcement earlier this month on the future of medical training.