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Prostate Cancer Survival Gap Between African Americans and Caucasians May be Closing
"If you can catch it early...you can make a big difference" - Fernando Bianco MD, Wayne State

New York /PSA Rising/ June 4, 2001 -- The prostate cancer survival gap between African Americans and Caucasians may be closing.

A blood test  might save your lifeThe survival gap may be narrowing between African Americans and Caucasians who have had prostate cancer and have been treated with radical prostatectomy, according to a new Wayne State University study.

Dr. Fernando Bianco, a WSU urologist at Harper University Hospital, and his colleagues conducted a study of 1,042 men who had radical prostatectomies between 1990 and 1999, about a third of whom were African American. The men were divided into two groups: those who had the procedure between 1990 and 1995 and those who had it between 1996 and 1999.

Although more Caucasian men than African-American men remained disease free between 1990 and 1995, the gap appeared to be closing between 1996 and 1999. Dr. Bianco believes the survival rate for African Americans improved because more cases were caught at an earlier stage and contained to the organ because of prostatic-specific-antigen (PSA) testing.

In 1997 John Kelly, a board director of the American Cancer Society, said: "Prostate cancer, particularly among African Americans, is a disgraceful tragedy that needs immediate and drastic action."

African American men up to that time lagged behind whites in access to the PSA (Prostate specific antigen) blood test and other tests for early detection of prostate cancer. They were estimated to be two to three times as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Poor medical care, late diagnosis and inferior treatment were the main culprits, according to Dr. Raymond Wynne, MD, a senior radiation oncologist at the University of Rochester.

Dr. Bianco says this is changing. "If you can catch it early enough, you can make a big difference, and I think that's the thing that's happening here," he said.

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