Trends and black/white differences in treatment for nonmetastatic prostate cancer

Med Care. 1998 Sep;36(9):1337-48. doi: 10.1097/00005650-199809000-00006.


Objectives: Controversy and uncertainty surround use of radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy, and conservative symptomatic management in treating elderly men with nonmetastatic prostate cancer. Prior studies have demonstrated variations in use of these therapies by patient age, race, and geographic region. This study examined trends in treatment for nonmetastatic prostate cancer in black and white men aged 65 and older during the period 1986 to 1993. The study also explored factors related to use of initial therapies in these men.

Methods: A cohort of 52,915 men (48,410 white; 4,505 black) obtained from the linked SEER-Medicare dataset was used in an observational design. Various sociodemographic and clinical measures were incorporated in the analysis.

Results: For both races, use of aggressive therapy had increased with time, although this trend appears to be slowing. Black men were less likely to undergo radical prostatectomy than were white men, but use of radiation therapy did not differ markedly by race. High socioeconomic status and a lack of comorbid conditions were among the factors predictive of aggressive therapy receipt. The relation between race and receipt of aggressive therapy was dependent on whether prostate cancer was detected by transurethral resection of the prostate. Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics explained approximately half the difference between black men and white men in radical prostatectomy use.

Conclusions: This study documents racial differences and changing practice patterns in the treatment of nonmetastatic prostate cancer in elderly men. Further research is required to more fully understand reasons for racial differences, as well as to promote rational use of health care resources.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • African Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatectomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Radiotherapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States