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Gay and bisexual black men lag behind others in prostate cancer screening

December 24, 2008 |  2:41 pm

Many doctors recommend that once men reach 50, they should be screened for prostate and colorectal cancer. However, not all men get those tests, and a recent study has found that discrepancies exist among some groups.

Among all racial and ethnic groups and regardless of sexual orientation, African American men are least likely to get tested for prostate cancer. Prostate-specific antigen tests among gay and bisexual African American men were done 12% to 14% less than among heterosexual African Americans and 15% to 28% less than gay and bisexual white men. This is especially important considering African American men have significantly higher prostate cancer rates than white men.

It was a different story in the Latino community, however: Gay and bisexual Latinos’ use of up-to-date PSA testing was 11% higher than heterosexual Latino men and about the same as rates among gay and bisexual white men.

"Gay and bisexual black men had the lowest use of the PSA test, compared with every other group of men in the study," said the study’s lead author, Kevin Heslin, in a news release. Heslin, assistant professor at Charles Drew University in Los Angeles, added, "For blacks, being a member of both racial and sexual minority groups represents a kind of double jeopardy when it comes to getting PSA testing."

Data were examined from 19,410 men who participated in the California Health Interview Survey. Results were published in the December issue of the journal Medical Care.

Researchers also discovered that among all groups, more gay and bisexual men have received colorectal cancer tests than heterosexual men. That may be chalked up to the fact that gays and bisexuals may have greater access to tests, and that they also may be diagnosed as part of testing for sexual health issues.

-- Jeannine Stein