O.J. Simpson Died of Prostate Cancer: A Wake-Up Call for Black Men

Orenthal James Simpson, popularly known as O.J. Simpson, passed away at the age of 76 on April 10th from prostate cancer. Simpson was a once famous University of Southern California running back, a Heisman Trophy-winning, and former NFL Buffalo Bills football whose gridiron career was overshadowed by the murder of his wife and a friend of which he was accused. (Initially, acquitted of murder and found liable by a civil jury).
Subsequently, Jones led a troubled life, with some time in jail for a botched robbery. Along with that came a prostate diagnosis. Let’s unpack what prostate cancer is, preventative measures, and symptoms to look out for.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the small walnut-shaped gland in males that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm, according to the Mayo Clinic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prostate is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that empties urine from the bladder.
 There Are Different Types of Prostate Cancer
Cleveland Clinic says most prostate diagnoses are adenocarcinomas, which start in the cells of glands such as the prostate. Although they are less common, it can be helpful to be informed of the other types of prostate cancer, which include:

 Small cell carcinomas are known for spreading fast.
*Transitional cell carcinomas arise from the inner lining of the urinary tract.
 Neuroendocrine tumors begin in specialized cells called neuroendocrine cells.
 Sarcomas are a group of rare malignant tumors that develop in bone and connective tissues.

What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Knowing the symptoms of prostate cancer can be the difference between life and death, the CDC has provided a concise list of things to look out for, including:

 Difficulty starting urination.
 Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
 Urinating often, especially at night.
 Trouble emptying the bladder completely
Pain or burning during urination.
Blood in the urine or semen.
Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that does not go away.
Painful ejaculation.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please visit your healthcare provider. Aside from prostate cancer, these symptoms can be attached to other conditions. Additionally, having a trusted medical team is essential; prostate cancer is notorious for being a silent killer, but it does not always signal its presence through symptoms.
Cause, Prevention, and Treatment
Although studies suggest that diet, genetics, age, and lifestyle can contribute to the development of prostate cancer, its exact cause has not been discovered, as stated by The American Oncology Institute.
To prevent prostate cancer, there are a few steps that men can take. The American Oncology Institute has provided some insight on the healthy steps that men can take to prevent the development of this cancer, including:

Regular exercise.
Maintaining a healthy weight.
Quitting smoking.
Prostate cancer screenings

If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are several types of treatments available, including:

Radiation therapy is the utilization of high-energy rays to shrink the tumor.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs either administered orally or through intravenous injections to target cancer cells.
Hormone therapy lowers the levels of testosterone in the body, which can slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Surgery, removing the prostate gland. Although these are the most popular treatment forms, other options may be available, and your healthcare provider may suggest a combination of multiple treatments.

How Prostate Cancer Impacts Our Community
O.J. Simpson’s battle with prostate cancer should serve as a wake-up call for our community, specifically Black men. Prostate cancer makes up approximately 37% of all cancers in Black men. This cancer is more prominent within the Black community than any other racial or ethnic group, as reported by WebMD. In addition to being the majority for prostate cancer diagnoses, Black men are also twice as likely to die from prostate cancer compared to men of other races. This disparity contributes to the many health gaps plaguing our community and should not be overlooked. It is best to catch prostate cancer at an early stage, and this means that Black men should be going to get screenings and manage their prostate health, especially as they get older.
The CDC suggests the following:
* Men who are 55 to 69 years old should make individual decisions about being screened for prostate cancer with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This is a blood test that helps healthcare providers diagnose and manage prostate cancer.
* Before deciding, men should talk to their doctor about the benefits and harms of screening for prostate cancer, including the benefits and harms of other tests and treatments.
* Men who are 70 years old and older should not be screened for prostate cancer regularly.
 
For Black men specifically, it is better to ask your healthcare providers early on, this could mean developing and asking your questions in your 40s, this can help you to grasp your reality and the steps you will need to take to stay ahead of prostate complications. When it comes to prostate cancer, being Black is a risk factor. This means that extra care, advocacy, and initiative must be taken to prevent the development of this silent killer.
O.J. Simpson’s fight with prostate cancer is a strong reminder of the importance of awareness and early detection. By understanding the disparities that exist with prostate cancer, we can better equip our community with the information that is needed. If you are experiencing any symptoms of prostate cancer or if you are in the age bracket for prostate cancer concern, please speak with your doctor for additional guidance.
Early detection can save you and your loved ones, so don’t be shy. Spread the word!

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