African-American men with prostate cancer live as long as their
white counterparts if they receive the same treatment, two cancer
research studies show. African-American men, however, are not
receiving comparable treatment, says Dr. Mack Roach, Assistant
Professor of Radiation Oncology and Medical Oncology at the University
of California, San Francisco. They also aren't going to the doctor
until they have late-stage disease, he notes. These are the main
reasons why African-Americans are two times more likely to die
of the disease than white men, he says.
Some people have suggested that just because a person is African-American
his cancer will be more deadly, says Dr. Roach. "This is
simply not true," he contends.
Some studies have reported that, overall, African- American men
do worse than their white counterparts. When African-American
men took part in studies conducted by the Radiation Therapy Oncology
Group (RTOG) this wasn't the case, Dr. Roach reports. The studies
offered quality standardized care, according to Dr. Roach.
African-American men diagnosed with prostate cancer should ask
their doctor if they can participate in a cancer research study,
advises Dr. Jim Cox, Chairman of the RTOG. These studies guarantee
that all patients, regardless of race, receive the same treatment
as other men in the studies.
"Quality care is essential, but African-Americans also must
get screened early if we want to reduce the number of prostate
cancer deaths in this group," says Dr. Roach. This is exactly
the opposite of what is happening, he says. Perhaps because of
greater access and heightened awareness, more whites are being
screened. "The difference in stage of disease at diagnosis
between African- Americans and whites is getting larger,"
notes Dr. Roach.