Black men wait about a week longer than whites between receiving a prostate
cancer diagnosis and starting treatment, a new study finds.
Researchers analysed Medicare data from about 2 500 black men and 21 400
white men who were diagnosed with early prostate cancer between 2004 and 2007.
Overall, black patients waited an average of seven days longer to begin
treatment than whites, they found.
The gap was even longer, nine days, for black patients with aggressive
prostate cancer, according to the University of North Carolina (UNC) study.
"These are all patients with some form of insurance, [namely] Medicare, so it
is not a lack of insurance that delays the care," study leader Dr Ronald Chen,
an assistant professor at UNC's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in
a university news release.
"Other studies have shown that African American men are less likely to get
screened, they get diagnosed with more advanced cancers, and they are less
likely to get aggressive treatment when they are diagnosed," Chen said.
"Now we have shown that African American patients also wait longer for
treatment. I think all of these disparities together add up to contribute to
worse long-term survival outcomes for African American patients."
The study data did not reveal how the delay in starting treatment affected
black patients' survival, but Chen noted that timely delivery of care is an
important indicator of the quality of that care.
He said further research is needed to determine why treatment is delayed in
black prostate cancer patients.
"What our study does is that it identifies an area of need, an area of
disparity. More studies are needed to figure out why and to find ways to address
disparities in care," said Chen.
Previous studies have shown that black men are 2.4 times more likely than
white men to die of prostate cancer. This difference in survival rates is the
highest of any type of cancer, the news release noted.
Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer among American men with
more than 240 000 cases per year, and the second-leading cause of cancer death
among American men, causing 28 000 deaths a year.
The US National Cancer Institute has more about prostate
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