Study: Black Men Receive Lower-Quality Prostate Cancer Treatment

    A man sitting in living room loft on an orange sofaBlack men needing surgery for advanced prostate cancer seem to have worse outcomes than white men, according to a new study.

    Based on data collected from hospitals in three states, black men who had their prostates removed were more likely to need blood transfusions, stay in the hospital longer and die while hospitalized compared to white men.

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    They also had lower quality of care, the research suggested. Compared to whites, black men were 27 percent less likely to have their surgery at a hospital that routinely removes prostates and 33 percent less likely to be seen by a surgeon experienced in the procedure, known as radical prostatectomy.

    According to the American Cancer Society, over 241,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S. in 2012, and over 28,000 will die from it.

    Black men seem to be disproportionately represented in both of those numbers. They are 59 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer and more than twice as likely to die from it compared to white men, according to earlier research.

    “There seems to be some event that happens after diagnosis that leads to worse outcomes,” said Dr.Daniel Barocas, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of urologic surgery at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

    It could be that black men choose different or less aggressive treatments than white men, said Barocas. He and his team decided to look specifically at whether quality of care differs by race.

    The researchers consulted information on 105,972 adult men who had their prostates removed because of cancer at hospitals in Florida, Maryland and New York between 1996 and 2007.

    Of those, 81,112 patients were white and 14,006 were black.

    Because the number of surgeries performed at a hospital or by a surgeon can be used as a measure of procedure quality, the researchers compared the experience level of the hospitals and doctors that treated white and black men.

    For this study, a hospital was considered “high volume” if it did about two surgeries per month or more, while surgeons were considered experienced if they did about one per month.

    The researchers found that 59 percent of black men in the study went to a high-volume surgeon, compared to 70 percent of white men.

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