Race, Residence Could Raise Odds for Fatal Prostate Cancer

A new study finds that Black men, and men in certain parts of the United States, are more likely to die from prostate cancer.

Key takeaways:
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    How likely you are to die from prostate cancer may depend a lot on what race you are and where you live.
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    Researchers are still learning why Black men and men living in Western parts of the U.S. have an increased risk of prostate cancer.
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    Some statistics link less access to health care as a possible reason for prostate cancer disparities.

A new study shows that men's chances of dying from prostate cancer may depend on their race and where they live in the United States.

American Cancer Society (ACS) researchers found that the outlook for men with prostate cancer is worse for Black men and men living in the western parts of the U.S.

“We found that prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates continued to be highest for Black men. Geographically, the highest death rates among White individuals were found in the West despite low incidence rates,” said the researchers in the study.

The scientists found that Black men have the highest prostate cancer incidence and death rates of all other races and ethnicities, with 68% higher incidence and 111% higher death rates than white men, the population with the second highest rates.

To reach their findings, the scientist examined incidence rates of prostate cancer in the U.S. and their short-term trends between 2015 and 2019. They also included long-term trends with results as old as the year 2000. The study used data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) 22-registry database. Together their data included nearly 50 percent of the population.

It’s unclear why there is such a significant disparity in prostate cancer deaths in Black men. However, some statistics found in the study point to some possibilities.

According to the study published in European Urology, only 36.7% of white men and 33.3% of Black men over 50 get prostate cancer screenings.

The researchers, including ACS CEO Karen Knudsen, say that U.S. healthcare may have something to do with such low turnout for prostate screenings.

According to the study, “There were approximately 33 million uninsured individuals in 2019 in the USA, with Black, Hispanic, and AIAN individuals disproportionately represented in this group, and 11 states have yet to expand Medicaid to the low-income population as part of the Affordable Care Act.”

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, most prostate cancers (80-85 percent) are found in their early stages of I, II, and III. Nearly 100 percent of men treated with early-stage prostate cancer are disease-free after five years.

However, stage IV prostate cancer has an average five-year survival rate of only 28 percent.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The ACS estimates that about 268,490 new cases of prostate cancer will appear in 2022. Of those cases, experts expect about 34,500 deaths from prostate cancer.

"Most of our findings have significant implications for policymakers and cancer control advocates regarding the expansion of access to care and increasing federal funding for research from prevention to early detection and treatments,"

Dr. Knudsen

Dr. Knudsen and the other scientists urge health professionals and government officials to use this study for upcoming policy changes.

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