Racial Disparity in Prostate Cancer Due to Poor Access

North Carolina study suggests blacks have poorer access and continuity of medical care

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Racial disparities in prostate cancer mortality continue to exist in the United States, most likely because of reduced access and continuity of medical care stemming from poor socioeconomic status, according to a report in the April 15 issue of Cancer.

James A. Talcott, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues surveyed 207 black males and 348 white males in the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry who were recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.

While blacks were at no greater distance to medical centers than whites, they had less access due to poorer medical coverage. Continuity of care was also poorer because they often used public clinics and emergency wards. In addition, many omitted visits even though they felt they needed them and many held distrust for physicians. Despite this, most black patients realized that they were at greater risk for prostate cancer.

"For African American men, the main barriers to timely diagnosis and screening identified in this study arose from their constrained opportunities for health care access and utilization, absence of strong ties to a primary physician, and a probably related reduced trust of physicians," the authors conclude. "Interventions attempting to increase African American men's use of screening and the probability of collaborative treatment decisions after diagnosis should address their reduced access to and continuity of care."

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