Study finds racial differences in survival rates after prostate cancer treatment

November 18, 2003

CHAPEL HILL -- Black men tend to have poorer overall survival rates than white men after being treated for localized prostate cancer, a new study shows.

The findings, to be published in Wednesday's (Nov. 19) issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, also show the greatest disparity to be among men who undergo surgery.

The study's lead author is Dr. Paul Godley, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and leader of the UNC Program on Ethnicity, Culture and Health Outcomes. He was joined by researchers from UNC's schools of medicine and public health, the Medical Review of North Carolina and Massachusetts General Hospital.

The study involved 5,747 black men and 38,242 white men with clinically localized prostate cancer. Researchers found that among those who had surgery, the median survival time for black patients was 1.8 years less than for white patients (10.8 years versus 12.6 years, respectively).

The differences in median survival times between black and white patients were smaller among patients treated with radiation therapy ( .7 years) and among patients who had non-aggressive therapy, also called "watchful waiting" (1.0 years).

About 75 percent of the estimated 189,100 prostate cancers diagnosed nationwide in 2002 were clinically localized at the time of diagnosis, so any disparities in outcomes among such patients are of great interest, Godley said. Clinically localized cancer is disease confined to the prostate.

Scientists merged the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data with Medicare file information to compile their findings.

"Previous research into prostate cancer outcome disparities assumed that patients receiving similar treatment would have similar medical outcomes," said Godley. "We felt it was important to examine whether black and white patients treated with surgery or other treatments actually had similar survival. The disparities in survival persisted even after adjusting for geographic region where the patient was treated, tumor grade, other medical conditions and socio-economic factors.

"Figuring out why survival among blacks is worse and why surgical patients have the largest disparity will take more research."

Several reasons could account for these disparities, researchers said. One is that black patients had reduced access to specialized radiation therapy, which is preferred over surgery for patients in whom locally advanced cancer is suspected. Another possible explanation is genetic differences between races in response to prostate cancer treatment.

Their report concluded that "researchers should continue to investigate racial disparities in treatment outcomes as well as the specific social, biologic or environmental conditions that may be responsible for these disparities."
Funding was provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Note: Contact Godley at 919-218-7240 after 5 p.m. today (Nov. 18) or at

Lineberger Center contact: Dianne Shaw, 919-966-7834

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Related Radiation Therapy Articles from Brightsurf:

Pulmonary artery thrombosis a complication of radiation therapy
According to ARRS' American Journal of Roentgenology, the imaging findings of in situ pulmonary artery thrombosis (PAT) associated with radiation therapy (RT) are different from those of acute pulmonary emboli and do not appear to embolize.

New approach for calculating radiation dosimetry allows for individualized therapy
Researchers have developed a simplified process that could enhance personalization of cancer therapy based on a single nuclear medicine scan.

Developing microbeam radiation therapy (MRT) for inoperable cancer
An innovative radiation treatment that could one day be a valuable addition to conventional radiation therapy for inoperable brain and spinal tumors is a step closer, thanks to new research led by University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers at the Canadian Light Source (CLS).

Travel considerations specified for 177Lu-DOTATATE radiation therapy patients
Researchers and patient advocates have addressed the challenges related to traveling after receiving 177Lu-DOTATATE radiation therapy in a study published in the April issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

A new way to monitor cancer radiation therapy doses
More than half of all cancer patients undergo radiation therapy and the dose is critical.

AI can jump-start radiation therapy for cancer patients
Artificial intelligence can help cancer patients start their radiation therapy sooner -- and thereby decrease the odds of the cancer spreading -- by instantly translating complex clinical data into an optimal plan of attack.

Towards safer, more effective cancer radiation therapy using X-rays and nanoparticles
X-rays could be tuned to deliver a more effective punch that destroys cancer cells and not harm the body.

Radiation therapy effective against deadly heart rhythm
A single high dose of radiation aimed at the heart significantly reduces episodes of a potentially deadly rapid heart rhythm, according to results of a phase one/two study at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

New mathematical model can improve radiation therapy of brain tumours
Researchers have developed a new model to optimize radiation therapy and significantly increase the number of tumor cells killed during treatment.

Using artificial intelligence to deliver personalized radiation therapy
New Cleveland Clinic-led research shows that artificial intelligence (AI) can use medical scans and health records to personalize the dose of radiation therapy used to treat cancer patients.

Read More: Radiation Therapy News and Radiation Therapy Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to