Socioeconomic Factors Likely Behind Higher Prostate Cancer Rates in North Carolina Black Men, Study Says
Socioeconomic factors -- including lack of access to care and health insurance, not having a regular source of care and having lower annual incomes -- contribute in large part to disparities in prostate cancer rates between black and white men in North Carolina, according to a study published online in the journal Cancer, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. Black men nationwide are more disproportionately affected by prostate cancer, and they have more than twice the death rate from the disease than white men, according to the News & Observer (Fisher, Raleigh News & Observer, 3/12). For the study, researchers used the information from the North Carolina Cancer Registry to identify and survey 207 black and 348 white men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer (Talcott et al., Cancer, 3/12). Researchers from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Harvard University and other institutions conducted the survey. According to the findings, black men were less likely than white men to receive regular medical checkups and screening tests for prostate cancer, but they were aware that they had an increased risk for the disease. Blacks also were more likely than whites to report physical symptoms that indicate the initial stages of prostate cancer and have lower incomes and be uninsured. In addition, black men were less likely than white men to report that they trusted their physician, an effect of poor access to care, Paul Godley, a medical oncologist at UNC-Chapel Hill and co-author of the study, said. Blacks were more likely than whites to receive care in public clinics and emergency departments and to see a different provider each time. Godley said, "It's harder to develop trust." He added, "The African-Americans in the study were hampered by real barriers to accessing care." The study suggested that "improving access to medical care -- not just raising awareness of the disease," is needed to reduce the prostate cancer death rates among black men in North Carolina, the News & Observer reports (Raleigh News & Observer, 3/12). An abstract of the study is available online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.