When Ulysses B. Hammond was diagnosed with prostate cancer, his first thought was that he could wait to deal with it. After all, the doctor said it would spread slowly. That reaction is typical for men – especially African Americans like Hammond — and it plays a role in explaining why they have the highest cancer death rate in the United States and in Connecticut. “It’s not deemed very macho to actually admit or discuss physical frailties,” said Hammond, chair of the board at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London. The death rate for African American men and women nationally – 207.7 per 100,000 people – is more than 20 percent higher than the rate for whites, according to 2009 data, the latest from the National Cancer Institute.