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Prostate Cancer Screening Disparities More In Low Income men

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

According to a UCLA study, men with low income are often diagnosed with prostate cancer late in the disease due to disparities in prostate cancer screening. The study, published in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Urology, highlights factors affecting mortality from prostate cancer in men with low income, uninsured, or underinsured.

The program, Improving Access, Counseling and Treatment for Californians with Prostate Cancer (IMPACT) provides quality healthcare to men who are disadvantaged. UCLA researchers studied 570 men in the program, comparing them to the general population. They found that 19% of men who were IMPACT patients had advanced prostate cancer at the time of diagnosis, compared to 4% of men in the general population included in other studies. They also found that the diagnosis of prostate cancer in affluent men increased over time, while low risk, less advanced prostate cancer remained the same for the disadvantaged men who were receiving IMPACT services.

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According to senior author, Dr. William Aronson, a clinical professor in the UCLA Department of Urology and a researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, … "the persistent preponderance of metastatic and higher-risk localized cancers in these men suggests that more comprehensive strategies are needed to eliminate the disparities in prostate cancer morbidity and mortality." Much focus has been recently directed toward prostate cancer detection leading to over diagnosis and treatment, but the new study suggests,"… that for disadvantaged men, under-detection and under-treatment of prostate cancer remains a significant concern."

The study clearly shows that men who are poor or in the minority are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing preventive health care. The IMPACT program is the first program nationwide that provides help to underinsured or uninsured patients for obtaining access to prostate cancer treatment.

Dr. Aronson says, "The IMPACT program without question allows these disadvantaged men to receive high-quality prostate cancer care that they did not have access to before." The IMPACT program provides free services to disadvantaged men, utilizing over 700 medical providers statewide.

Recognizing the disparities faced by low-income men is the first step toward improving prostate cancer survival. By recogniizing the need for improvements in prostate cancer screening, the UCLA researchers have identified an important area of healthcare that deserves nationwide attention.