Health Disparities in Third Ward, vol. 1: Prostate Cancer

In April of 2017, Mayor Sylvester Turner declared Third Ward a “Complete Community” as part of an initiative to improve the quality-of-life of neighborhoods affected by historical disinvestment. This disinvestment has affected Third Ward throughout the years in multitudes of ways. Though Third Ward’s sense of community is perhaps one of the strongest in Houston, economic issues, coupled with disproportionately lower access to healthcare, continue to bolster the issue of physical health disparity amongst its residents.

A significant point of concern is the danger of prostate cancer among black men in the US. In light of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to recognize how common prostate cancer is in black males. In fact, according to WebMD, 37% of all cancers in black men are prostate cancer, a higher percentage than any other racial or ethnic group. Additionally, 1 in 6 black men will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their life, in contrast to the national average of 1 in 8 men. This higher rate of occurrence is also coupled with the fact that, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, black men are approximately 1.6 times more likely than all other men to get prostate cancer and twice as likely to die from it. 

So what are some possible causes of these disparities in prostate cancer, especially in Third Ward? One of the biggest reasons is the issue of healthcare access in the community. According to the Baker Institute, only 68.38% of Third Ward residents had some form of healthcare coverage, a stark contrast to the national average of 91.2%. Moreover, only about half of Third Ward residents (52.41%) had a primary healthcare provider. The most commonly cited barriers to healthcare access were cost, time, and household/work responsibilities – an indicator of substantial economic factors at play. 

Health issues that increase the chances of getting prostate cancer are also a contributor to the disparity in Third Ward. According to Hopkins Medicine, obesity increases the risk and severity of prostate cancer. The Baker Institute reports that 40.2% of Third Ward residents were obese, a higher rate than the averages for both Texas and the U.S. The lack of physical activity is another contributor to prostate cancer, with the Houston Health Department reporting that 33% of Third Ward residents did not participate in any form of physical activity other than their jobs. Furthermore, a poor diet coupled with lack of exercise can weaken the immune system, further raising the risk of prostate cancer.

Ultimately, these two aspects of prostate cancer disparity have their roots in the issue of cost, time, and availability of healthcare. Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is an important event that helps individuals recognize the risk factors for prostate cancer and encourage screenings and preventative care. In this regard, The Honeycomb Clinic is a wellness based clinic in the heart of Third Ward and committed to tackling healthcare disparities such as prostate cancer. Third Ward residents can get screened for prostate cancer with primary care physicians at Honeycomb Clinic as well as participate in weekly “Walk with a Doc” programs to increase their physical activity. Increasing activity can help patients lose weight which can contribute to ultimately decreasing their risk of prostate cancer.

To learn more about The Honeycomb Clinic or book an appointment, visit https://thehoneycombclinic.com/ or call 346-330-9906.