Prostate cancer disparities analyzed via VA data

Jan. 19, 2022

The results of a nationwide retrospective analysis showed that African American veterans had a nearly two-fold greater incidence of prostate cancer, both localized disease and de novo metastatic disease, compared to European American men, according to a news release from Moffitt Cancer Center.

Moffitt Cancer Center has been conducting research on disparities in prostate cancer, specifically evaluating the interplay between social and biological mechanisms that drive the disease among different races and ethnicities.

The newest study, published by JAMA Network Open, is a collaboration with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Veterans Affairs, and John and Daria Barry Foundation Precision Oncology Center of Excellence.

At Moffitt, Kosj Yamoah, MD, PhD, Associate Member in the Department of Radiation Oncology, and his team evaluated 7.8 million veterans nationwide who were treated for prostate cancer between 2005 and 2019 with the goal of assessing racial disparities.

They found that African American men had a 29% increased risk of prostate cancer detection on diagnostic prostate biopsy compared to European American men.

From a treatment perspective, African American men who received definitive primary treatment in a timely fashion experienced a lower risk of metastasis. But those who did not receive treatment right away or did not have any clear documentation of treatment had a worse risk of developing metastatic disease.

Another recent study from researchers at UCLA also found that Black men may have improved response to initial treatment, compared with White men.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in American men, second only to skin cancer. One in eight men will develop the disease in his lifetime. While nearly 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, research has shown that the disease is often more aggressive and more deadly for African American men.

Yamoah says the findings more clearly define the drivers of prostate cancer disparities within a nearly equal access setting and highlights the need for action.

“Increased incidence of prostate cancer is a major driver of the residual disparity in prostate cancer metastasis among African American men. Even in an equal access to care scenario, we saw that adequate, timely therapy is a big factor that will decrease the risk of adverse events, including metastases and death,” he said.  “There is a lot of work still to be done, but this data gives us the information we need to develop strategies to combat prostate cancer disparities here in the U.S. and globally.”

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