A study from the University of Michigan sheds new light on prostate cancer treatment for African American men

A team of medical researchers led by University of Michigan doctors wanted to answer the question of whether black race associated with worse prostate cancer outcomes after controlling for variables such as access to care.

This question of racial disparity in regard to prostate cancer is important because African American men in the United States are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as Caucasian men. The reason for the disparity, in black and white men with similar stages of prostate cancer disease, is still unclear, especially in regard to the contribution of biological versus non-biological differences.

The University of Michigan conducted an extensive study which concluded that the reason for the prostate cancer outcome disparity isn’t that black men intrinsically and biologically harbor more aggressive disease. The study stated that when provided the same access to treatment and care, black and white men have very similar cure rates.

However, black men get fewer prostate cancer screenings, and are more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage cancer. They are also less likely to have health insurance.

The study from the University of Michigan also suggests that when it comes to African American prostate cancer, health care, and socioeconomic factors play a larger role than genetics.

This study is very important to African American men and also for the physicians who treat them. The key takeaway is that now, more than ever, it is important for African American men to be proactive about their prostate health, and that a good first step in that direction is to initiate a discussion with a primary care physician or a urologist about the benefit of prostate cancer screening.

The University of Michigan study reviewed data on 306,100 men — 54,840 black men — ages 59 to 71 from the Veterans Affairs system and four other clinical trials.

Thanks to this study from the University of Michigan, urologists and other physicians now have evidence that prostate cancer outcomes in African Americans are substantially linked to access to care rather than genetic factors.

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