Racial differences in screening for prostate cancer in the elderly

Arch Intern Med. 2004 Sep 27;164(17):1858-64. doi: 10.1001/archinte.164.17.1858.


Background: Black men are more likely than white men to be diagnosed as having advanced prostate cancer, and their prostate cancer mortality rates are more than twice as high. Low screening rates among black men may contribute to these disparities, but there are few data on racial differences in prostate cancer screening.

Objectives: To present a case-control study of racial differences in the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) as a screening test among Medicare beneficiaries in New Jersey and to assess the degree to which race is associated with prostate cancer screening.

Methods: The study used a statewide database of claims data from Medicare Parts A and B, Medicaid, and the state's Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled program. Prevalent cases of prostate cancer were excluded using the state's cancer registry. Of 139 672 men who underwent PSA screening, 34 984 were randomly selected along with an identical number of controls matched by month and year of birth. After men with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification,or Current Procedural Terminology codes indicative of prostate cancer were excluded, 33 463 case patients and 33 782 control subjects remained.

Results: The use of PSA screening was strongly and inversely associated with black race (odds ratio [OR] = 0.50; P<.001), poverty (OR = 0.33; P<.001), and near poverty (OR = 0.69; P<.001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis after age, socioeconomic status, comorbidity, and use of health care services were controlled for revealed that black race remained a strong predictor of not undergoing PSA screening (OR = 0.65; 95% confidence interval, 0.60-0.70).

Conclusions: Elderly blacks are substantially less likely to undergo PSA screening than elderly whites. Differences in socioeconomic status and comorbid conditions explain only a small part of the racial differences in screening rates.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • Patient Compliance / ethnology*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / ethnology*


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen