Minorities & Prostate Cancer

African American and Hispanic men have higher mortality rates when it comes to prostate cancer – that much has been well-documented. Now some new research may shed some light on at least one disturbing reason why that is: Both ethnic groups are less likely to receive any kind of therapy for for prostate cancer compared to Caucasian men. That, even when they are faced with extremely aggressive forms of the disease.

“Despite their higher risk for more aggressive disease, African-American men and Hispanic men are less likely to receive treatment, and less treatment may play a significant role in increased rates of death from prostate cancer,” said Dr. Underwood, Associate Professor in the Department of Urology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the study's lead author. “This research demonstrates a need for an action plan to address a racial disparity that has been known for more than 20 years.”

The researchers examined data for 327,641 men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer between 2004 and 2011. They drew the records from the national Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program. Race, age, treatment, Gleason score, marital status, year of diagnosis, D’Amico risk classification and whether or not the men received definitive treatment were all taken into consideration.

The unerring conclusion was that African-American men and Hispanic men were less likely to receive therapy compared to Caucasian and Asian-American men, even when they had a Gleason score of 7 or higher.

The study shows that African-American diagnosed within each category — low-, intermediate- and high-risk disease — had significantly lower odds of receiving definitive treatment. Hispanic men in two of the categories – intermediate- or high-risk disease – also had lower odds of receiving treatment. Asian men in the study, however, were on the average older and had more advanced disease at the time of diagnosis.  They were also shown to be just as likely to receive treatment as Caucasian men.

“This data shows a significant disparity in the rates of prostate cancer treatment among African-American men and an emerging disparity among Hispanic men, compared to the broader population,” adds Kelvin Moses, MD, PhD, lead author and Assistant Professor of Urologic Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “We hope that these findings will inspire physicians and public health organizations to develop interventions to help address these persistent disparities.”

The study has been published in Urology.