In certain circumstances, differences in prostate cancer treatment outcomes for Black men may not be due to biological differences in tumor aggressiveness, a Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found.
According to the study, led by Dr. Quoc-Dien Trinh, there are no overall or cancer-related race differential survival rates among the
patients observed. The study followed prostate cancer patients after surgery. Based on the findings, Black men who had surgery to remove their prostate had more complications and payed higher out-of-pocket costs.
Hence, when compared to Whites, Blacks were more likely to have complications, emergency department visits, and hospital readmissions after their surgery.
Hence, Dr. Trinh, concluded that “ all this talk about blacks having more biologically aggressive disease and hence worse survival may in fact be more of an access to care or access to treatment problem".
The findings from the study appear to confirm what was know for long regarding the racial disparities in cancer treatment outcomes. The disparities appear to be related to economical conditions, such as early detection, difficulty getting referrals to urologists and specialists, and transferring care to specialists and communicating in a complex health care system.
According to Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society and an oncologist at Emory University:
“A higher proportion of black men are challenged in terms of health literacy and less likely to seek out prostate cancer specialists.”