TALLAHASSEE — Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other races, according to the Florida Department of Health, which is urging all men to get tested for the disease.

The DOH has declared September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

“All men need to know the risk factors of prostate cancer and talk to their doctor, especially if they feel they have any of these risk factors or experience symptoms,” Annette Phelps, A.R.N.P., M.S.N., Division Director of Family Health Services for the DOH, said in a prepared statement. “Your local county health department can provide information on the prostate cancer activities in your community.”

From 1981 to 2005, incidence rates of prostate cancer rose 44 percent among black males and 27 percent among white males. In 1981, blacks had an age-adjusted incidence rate 52 percent higher than whites. In 2005, the rate in blacks was 72 percent higher than in whites, and the mortality rate for blacks was 2.8 times the rate for whites. The American Cancer Society estimates that 2,520 men in Florida will die of prostate cancer in 2008.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, in American men, according to the American Cancer Society.

In Florida, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer, exceeded only by cancer of the lung and bronchus, according to the Florida Cancer Data System, Florida’s statewide cancer registry. The American Cancer Society estimates that 11,380 new prostate cancers will be diagnosed in Florida during 2008, according to the DOH.

The DOH encourages men to be aware of the risk factors associated with developing prostate cancer and to take an active role in their health. Factors that may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer include:

• Age – As a man ages, his risk increases. The average age of patients at the time of diagnosis is 65.

• Family history of prostate cancer – A man’s risk is higher if his father or brother had prostate cancer.

• Race – The disease is more common in black men than in white men, including Hispanic white men. It is less common in Asian and American Indian men.

• Diet and dietary factors – Some studies suggest that men who eat a diet high in animal fat may be at increased risk for prostate cancer.

For more information on prostate cancer and screening, call the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-422-6237 or visit the DOH website at www.doh.state.fl.us or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.