African American men with prostate cancer have similar survival rates to white counterparts if they have equal access to health care, a new study suggests. Earlier research has found African Americans are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as whites, and the reasons may include diagnosis when the disease is more advanced as well as differences in medical care.
But the new study, which followed more than 60,000 men with prostate cancer getting care from the U.S. Veterans Administration Health System, found African American men did not have more advanced disease at diagnosis and did not die earlier than white men, researchers reported in Cancer.
“Throughout the U.S. population, African Americans usually have worse outcomes with prostate cancer,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Brent Rose of the University of California, San Diego. “The hypothesis has been that the disease is just biologically more aggressive in African American men.”
“Our study suggests that is not a foregone conclusion,” Rose said. “There’s something about the way the VA medical system reduces disparities seen in normal health care that suggests that equal outcomes could be created with smart policy decisions.”
- See “With Equal Care, African American and White Men Have Same Prostate Cancer Survival” by Reuters on the Voice of American website (January 27, 2020)
- See the abstract of the scientific paper “Survival of African American and non-Hispanic white men with prostate cancer in an equal-access health care system” by Paul Riviere et al.