Background: Previous studies documenting variations in severity of prostate cancer at diagnosis by race/ethnicity and insurance status have been limited to small sample sizes and patients ≥65 years of age. This study examines disease severity among patients ages 18 to 99 from the National Cancer Database (NCDB).
Methods: Patients diagnosed between 2004 and 2006 with prostate cancer were selected from the NCDB (n = 312,339). We evaluated the association among three disease severity measures: prostate specific antigen (PSA) level, Gleason score 8 to 10, and clinical T-stage 3/4, by race/ethnicity and insurance while adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical factors.
Results: Uninsured and Medicaid-insured patients had elevated PSA levels, higher odds of advanced Gleason score [uninsured odds ratio (OR), 1.97; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.82-2.12; Medicaid OR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.55-1.79], and advanced clinical T stage (uninsured OR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.69-2.03; Medicaid OR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.35-1.63) compared with privately insured patients. Black (OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.15-1.23), Hispanic (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.10-1.23), and Asian patients (OR, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.24-1.43) had higher odds of advanced Gleason score and similar odds of advanced stage of disease relative to whites.
Conclusion: Insurance status is strongly associated with disease severity among prostate cancer patients.
Impact: Strong associations between insurance and disease severity may be related to lack of access to preventive services such as PSA screening and barriers to medical evaluation. Although the risks and benefits of PSA screening have not been fully elucidated, it is important that all men have the opportunity to be informed about this option and preventative medical services.