African-American men with low-risk prostate cancer treated with radical prostatectomy in an equal-access health care system: implications for active surveillance



There is concern that African-American men (AA) with low-risk prostate cancer may present with more aggressive disease and thus may not be candidates for active surveillance (AS). However, it is uncertain if poorer outcomes are due to disparities in access to medical care rather than true biological differences.


Observational cohort study of patients diagnosed with low-risk PC—Gleason score ≤6, clinical tumor stage ≤2A, and prostate specific antigen (PSA) level ≤10—at US Department of Veterans Affairs between January 1, 2001 and October 31, 2015 and treated with radical prostatectomy. Outcomes included upgrading to Gleason Grade Group 2 (GG2), GG ≥ 3, PSA recurrence, pathologic tumor stage ≥3, positive surgical margins, and all-cause mortality.


A total of 2857 men (AA: 835 White: 2022) with a median follow-up of 7.1 years. Overall, there was no significant difference between AA and White men in upgrading to GG ≥ 3 (RR = 1.18, p = 0.43), tumor stage ≥3 (RR = 0.95, p = 0.74), positive surgical margins (RR = 1.14, p = 0.20), PSA recurrence (SHR = 1.26, p = 0.06), and all-cause mortality (SHR = 1.26, p = 0.16). However, there was a significant increase in upgrading for AA to GG2 (RR = 1.49, p < 0.01).


There was no significant difference in most adverse pathologic outcomes between AA and White patients. However, GG2 upgrading was more common in AA men. The implication is that AA may need to undergo additional evaluation, such as a biopsy MRI, before initiating AS. Whether the increase in GG2 upgrading will lead to poorer long-term clinical outcomes such as metastasis and PCSM also requires further investigation.

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Deka, R., Parsons, J.K., Simpson, D.R. et al. African-American men with low-risk prostate cancer treated with radical prostatectomy in an equal-access health care system: implications for active surveillance. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis (2020).

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