A new study, published online last week in the journal Cancer, has found that African American military veterans are less likely to get treatments, including radiation and surgery, for aggressive prostate cancer.

Senior author Dr. Danil Makarov said, “Despite great strides in prostate cancer care over the past few decades, racial disparities in care persist, and there remains a lot to be done to better understand why this is happening and what we can do to finally close the gap.”

Dr. Makarov is a urologic surgeon at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, New York City.

The study researchers looked at the medical records of over 35,000 men who were treated for prostate cancer by the U.S. Veterans’ Health Administration between 2011 and 2017.

Upon investigation, the authors found that Black patients were 5% more likely to receive radiation or surgery compared to other patients. However, Black men who were most likely to benefit from surgery or radiation for aggressive prostate cancer were 11% less likely to get those treatments.

Co-investigator of the study Dr. Joseph Ravenell said, “Our study suggests, for reasons that remain unclear, that Black men who need treatment may be choosing against the most beneficial prostate cancer therapies (which are often more invasive), or that such ‘high-benefit’ treatments are not being offered to them as aggressively as they are to non-Black patients.”

“Our findings strongly indicate that patients and physicians should discuss fears, values and preferences when considering all of the relevant treatment options for prostate cancer,” Dr. Makarov added.

The researchers also confirmed previous research findings that Black Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer two years earlier than men of other races.

Previous studies have shown that African Americans are three times more likely to die from prostate cancer than non-African Americans are. The article was published on WebMD.