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Cancer. 2020 Jan 27. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32666. [Epub ahead of print]

Survival of African American and non-Hispanic white men with prostate cancer in an equal-access health care system.

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Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California.
Research Service, VA San Diego Health Care System, La Jolla, California.
Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California.



African American (AA) men in the general US population are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer (PC) compared with non-Hispanic white (NHW) men. The authors hypothesized that receiving care through the Veterans Affairs (VA) health system, an equal-access medical system, would attenuate this disparity.


A longitudinal, centralized database of >20 million veterans was used to assemble a cohort of 60,035 men (18,201 AA men [30.3%] and 41,834 NHW men [69.7%]) who were diagnosed with PC between 2000 and 2015.


AA men were more likely to live in regions with a lower median income ($40,871 for AA men vs $48,125 for NHW men; P < .001) and lower high school graduation rates (83% for AA men vs 88% for NHW men; P < .001). At the time of diagnosis, AA men were younger (median age, 63.0 years vs 66.0 years; P < .001) and had a higher prostate-specific antigen level (median, 6.7 ng/mL vs 6.2 ng/mL; P < .001), but were less likely to have Gleason score 8 to 10 disease (18.8% among AA men vs 19.7% among NHW men; P < .001), a clinical T classification ≥3 (2.2% vs 2.9%; P < .001), or distant metastatic disease (2.7% vs 3.1%; P = 0.01). The 10-year PC-specific mortality rate was slightly lower for AA men (4.4% vs 5.1%; P = .005), which was confirmed in multivariable competing-risk analysis (subdistribution hazard ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.78-0.93; P < .001).


AA men diagnosed with PC in the VA health system do not appear to present with more advanced disease or experience worse outcomes compared with NHW men, in contrast to national trends, suggesting that access to care is an important determinant of racial equity.


disparities; health services research; prostate cancer; race; veterans


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