equitable access to health care,” Agarwal, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the new study adds.
“Black men with prostate cancer get less than optimal therapy,” Dr. Otis Brawley, a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore notes.
It’s not about the color of skin or race, Brawley adds. “Black people are not biologically different than white people,” he says. “Race is a socioeconomic category.”
Many Black men live in poorer neighborhoods and have less access to high-quality care, Brawley explains.
Another cancer expert says more research is needed to interpret the findings.
“We have seen that the effect of race/ethnicity on treatment outcome can largely be abrogated if patients are diagnosed early and treated appropriately,” Dr. Madhur Garg, clinical director of radiation oncology at Montefiore Health System in New York City notes. “Clinical trial enrollment should be encouraged, to learn more about the biology of prostate cancer and whether certain treatments will be more effective than others based on race and ethnicity.”
How does radiation therapy work?
The main types of radiation therapy used for prostate cancer are:
- External beam radiation
- Brachytherapy (internal radiation)
According to the American Cancer Society, radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to kill cancer cells. Depending on the stage of your prostate cancer and other factors, radiation therapy might be used:
- As the first treatment for cancer that is still just in the prostate gland and is low grade. Cure rates for men with these types of cancers are about the same as those for men treated with radical prostatectomy.
- As part of the first treatment (along with hormone therapy) for cancers that have grown outside the prostate gland and into nearby tissues.
- If the cancer is not removed completely or comes back (recurs) in the area of the prostate after surgery.
- If the cancer is advanced, to help keep the cancer under control for as long as possible and to help prevent or relieve symptoms.
While you may feel that you must make a decision quickly, it’s important to give yourself time to absorb the information you have just learned, go over it with your doctor and ask questions if there is anything you are unsure about. Choosing the right treatment is key to ensuring that you have a positive outcome.