Equal Treatment Means Equal Survival for African-Americans With Prostate Cancer

June 1, 1995

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

African-American men with prostate cancer live as long as theirwhite counterparts if they receive the same treatment, two cancerresearch studies show. African-American men, however, are notreceiving comparable treatment, says Dr. Mack Roach, AssistantProfessor of Radiation Oncology and Medical Oncology at the Universityof California, San Francisco. They also aren't going to the doctoruntil they have late-stage disease, he notes. These are the mainreasons why African-Americans are two times more likely to dieof the disease than white men, he says.

Some people have suggested that just because a person is African-Americanhis cancer will be more deadly, says Dr. Roach. "This issimply not true," he contends.

Some studies have reported that, overall, African- American mendo worse than their white counterparts. When African-Americanmen took part in studies conducted by the Radiation Therapy OncologyGroup (RTOG) this wasn't the case, Dr. Roach reports. The studiesoffered quality standardized care, according to Dr. Roach.

African-American men diagnosed with prostate cancer should asktheir doctor if they can participate in a cancer research study,advises Dr. Jim Cox, Chairman of the RTOG. These studies guaranteethat all patients, regardless of race, receive the same treatmentas other men in the studies.

"Quality care is essential, but African-Americans also mustget screened early if we want to reduce the number of prostatecancer deaths in this group," says Dr. Roach. This is exactlythe opposite of what is happening, he says. Perhaps because ofgreater access and heightened awareness, more whites are beingscreened. "The difference in stage of disease at diagnosisbetween African- Americans and whites is getting larger,"notes Dr. Roach.