Fatalities from prostate cancer disproportionately affect African-American men more than any other ethnicity, but a relatively painless, simple annual blood test is still the most effective way to avoid the disease, according to a recent study released by a group of California urologists.

With September designated as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, hundreds of physicians across the country are encouraging their African-American male patients 40 years of age and older to get a prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening.

Pacific Urology, a California-based group of urologists, released a study last week advocating for the importance of PSA screening and the treatment of prostate cancer among men. The study cited recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, including the nearly 100 percent five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with prostate cancer and the more than 90 percent 10-year survival rate for men with the disease.

More than 1 million men in the United States undergo a prostate biopsy annually. The biopsies are often performed due to an elevated PSA level revealed by a blood test.

“The PSA test is just that-it’s very specific for prostate tissue, but not necessarily prostate cancer,” said Jabbar Zafar, a family medicine practitioner at Suzuki Medical Associates in Plainsboro, N.J.

Zafar said he regularly treats dozens of patients for prostate-related issues-including several African-Americans. He encourages his patients to have a periodic health exam. “People with chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and obesity should be seeing their physicians regularly as determined by the severity of their condition,” he said.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer less than a week before Christmas in 2010, New Jersey businessman Tracey S., 49, said an early diagnosis and a quick treatment regimen helped him beat the disease. He underwent a prostatectomy in March and is now cancer-free.

“The more people know about prostate cancer, the better off everyone will be,” he said. “Having prostate cancer set me back for a month or two, but I’m back now and happy to be healthy and alive.”

To find out more about the causes and treatment of prostate cancer, visit www.cancernetwork.com/prostate.