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Racial disparities in prostate cancer care persist

Category: Prostate

A lab test to screen for prostate cancer is the first step toward adequate treatment, which may include surgical removal of the organ. However, a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center found that black men tend to receive a lower quality of care than white men.

This conclusion is based on a review of the medical records of nearly 106,000 prostate cancer patients who underwent radical prostatectomies in Florida, Maryland and New York.

Results showed that black men were 33 percent less likely than white men to receive care from a high-volume surgeon, and 27 percent less likely to be treated at a high-volume hospital. This is important, considering previous studies revealed that surgical outcomes from high-volume surgeons and hospitals were better.

Furthermore, black patients had a higher rate of blood transfusion, longer hospital stays and a greater risk of death in the hospital.

These results remained significant after adjusting for other factors, such as insurance status.

"Racial disparities in prostate cancer outcomes may be partially explained by differences in access to high quality care, which in turn may reflect differences in patient resources," said researcher Daniel Barocas, M.D., M.P.H. "To close this gap, we may need interventions aimed at improving access to high-quality care for all men, including access to high volume health care providers."

These findings may be important for men who screen positive for prostate cancer through a lab test.

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