JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, N.I.H., EXTRAMURAL
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, NON-P.H.S.
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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Prostate Cancer Outcomes in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

JAMA Network Open 2022 January 5
Importance: Prostate cancer (PCa) disproportionately affects African American men, but research evaluating the extent of racial and ethnic disparities across the PCa continuum in equal-access settings remains limited at the national level. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Hospital Administration health care system offers a setting of relatively equal access to care in which to assess racial and ethnic disparities in self-identified African American (or Black) veterans and White veterans.

Objective: To determine the extent of racial and ethnic disparities in the incidence of PCa, clinical stage, and outcomes between African American patients and White patients who received a diagnosis or were treated at a VA hospital.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study included 7 889 984 veterans undergoing routine care in VA hospitals nationwide from 2005 through 2019 (incidence cohort). The age-adjusted incidence of localized and de novo metastatic PCa was estimated. Treatment response was evaluated, and PCa-specific outcomes were compared between African American veterans and White veterans. Residual disparity in PCa outcome, defined as the leftover racial and ethnic disparity in the outcomes despite equal response to treatment, was estimated.

Exposures: Self-identified African American (or Black) and White race and ethnicity.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Time to distant metastasis following PCa diagnosis was the primary outcome. Descriptive analyses were used to compare baseline demographics and clinic characteristics. Multivariable logistic regression was used to evaluate race and ethnicity association with pretreatment clinical variables. Multivariable Cox regression was used to estimate the risk of metastasis.

Results: Data from 7 889 984 veterans from the incidence cohort were used to estimate incidence, whereas data from 92 269 veterans with localized PCa were used to assess treatment response. Among 92 269 veterans, African American men (n = 28 802 [31%]) were younger (median [IQR], 63 [58-68] vs 65 [62-71] years) and had higher prostate-specific antigen levels (>20 ng/mL) at the time of diagnosis compared with White men (n = 63 467; [69%]). Consistent with US population-level data, African American veterans displayed a nearly 2-fold greater incidence of localized and de novo metastatic PCa compared with White men across VA centers nationwide. Among veterans screened for PCa, African American men had a 29% increased risk of PCa detection on a diagnostic prostate biopsy compared with White (hazard ratio, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.27-1.31; P < .001). African American men who received definitive primary treatment of PCa experienced a lower risk of metastasis (hazard ratio, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.83-0.95; P < .001). However, African American men who received nondefinitive treatment classified as “other” were more likely to develop metastasis (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.17-1.42; P < .001). Using the actual rate of metastasis from veterans who received definitive primary treatment, a persistent residual metastatic burden for African American men was observed across all National Comprehensive Cancer Network risk groups (low risk, 4 vs 2 per 100 000; intermediate risk, 13 vs 6 per 100 000; high risk, 19 vs 9 per 100 000).

Conclusions and Relevance: This cohort analysis found significant disparities in the incidence of localized and metastatic PCa between African American veterans and White veterans. This increased incidence is a major factor associated with the residual disparity in PCa metastasis observed in African American veterans compared with White veterans despite their nearly equal response to treatment.

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