Study finds that blacks are significantly less likely to undergo prostate cancer screening

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In a study involving more than 67,000 men age 65 years and older, the researchers found that blacks were 35 percent less likely than whites to undergo prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing.

The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 30,000 men will die from prostate cancer this year and that 230,000 cases will be diagnosed. The prostate cancer mortality rate for blacks has declined a little during the past decade but is still more than twice the rate for other races and ethnicities.

The researchers’findings were derived from claims 67,245 New Jersey residents filed with Medicare, Medicaid and the New Jersey Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled program from 1991 through 1996. To overcome the limitations of previous studies that looked at racial disparities, the researchers accounted for differences in age, socioeconomic status, use of health care services, and presence of other diseases and medical conditions – factors that are known to impact the use of primary and preventive care services.

The study confirmed a racial disparity in prostate cancer screening use but did not identify its causes or its impact. The researchers note that potential contributing factors could include racial differences in access to care and education levels, patient preferences and care provider recommendations.