Background: Many African American men have two major risk factors for prostate cancer. By ethnicity alone, they have twice the risk of Euro-American men of developing prostate cancer. Having a family history (brother or father with prostate cancer) also doubles their risk. The major hypotheses tested in this study are that men with a family history perceive their risk to be higher, are more worried about getting prostate cancer, and are more likely to have used cancer screening tests than men without such a history. Methods: A sample of 208 African American men, ages 40 to 74 years, were recruited through relatives or friends whose prostate cancer diagnosis was reported to the California Cancer Registry during the years 1997 to 2001 and from churches and African American social groups. Following a screening interview to determine eligibility, 88 men with self-reported, first-degree family history of prostate cancer and 120 without such history were interviewed by telephone. Logistic regression was used to create models of perceived risk, prostate cancer worries, receipt of a digital rectal exam, and/or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing. Results: Men with a self-reported family history of prostate cancer did not perceive their risk as higher than men without a family history, nor did they report more cancer worries. They were more likely to report having a recent PSA test, but not a digital rectal exam. Having a higher than average perceived risk was associated with younger age, a college education, and lower mental well-being, and reporting more prostate cancer worries and being more likely to have had a recent PSA test. Conclusions: Although there continues to be controversy about PSA testing, these data suggest that African American men at above-average risk are inclined to be screened.
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