A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense found similar survival rates among black and white patients with prostate cancer receiving care at VA.
The researchers, from the VA San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California at San Diego, say the results of the study suggests that having access to high-quality medical care is a major factor in racial equity among men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The research found black Veterans in VA care had a small but statistically significant decrease in the rate of death from prostate cancer compared with white VA patients. In contrast, African American men in the general population are more than twice as likely as white men to die from prostate cancer, although the reasons are complex. Past studies have found, however, that equal access to care can help reduce the survival gap. For example, fewer racial disparities are seen among cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials or those receiving care through VA, military health, Medicare or Medicaid.
Additionally, in the new study, black Veterans in VA care were no more likely to experience delays in diagnosis and care, or to present with more advanced disease.
The study included more than 60,000 men who received VA care for prostate cancer between 2000 and 2015, of which about a third were African American.
According to the study, the results add to a growing body of literature supporting the importance of access to high-quality medical care in reducing or eliminating racial disparities.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of non-skin cancer in the United States. One out of every nine men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer and to help determine if you should be screened, visit https://www.cancer.va.gov/CANCER/pcf.asp.
Mark Ledesma, a Marine Corps Veteran and public affairs specialist for VHA Office of Communications, contributed to this report.