Prostate cancer in African-American men: Outcome following radiation therapy with or without adjuvant androgen ablation

Gunar K. Zagars, Alan Pollack, Curtis A. Pettaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose: To compare the outcome of irradiated clinically localized prostate cancer in African-American and White patients. Methods and Materials: This was a retrospective review of 1,201 men, 116 African-American and 1,085 white, with T1-T3, N0/NX, M0 prostate cancer receiving external radiation between 1987 and 1996. Pretreatment characteristics, treatment parameters, and outcome (relapse or rising prostate-specific antigen [PSA] levels, local recurrence, metastatic relapse, and survival) were compared between the groups using univariate and multivariate statistical methods. Results: There were no significant differences between African-American and white patients in T-stage, Gleason score, prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) level, and testosterone level. African-Americans had a significantly lower incidence of abnormal digital rectal findings and a proportionally higher incidence of obstructive urinary symptoms at presentation and tended to be somewhat younger. A major difference between the two groups was in the significantly higher PSA levels among African-Americans (median, 14 ng/ml) than among white patients (median, 9.5 ng/ml). This translated into a higher incidence of unfavorable disease according to our criteria (39% vs. 25%) among African-Americans and, thus, to the more frequent use of adjuvant androgen ablation and to somewhat higher radiation doses in these patients. With a median follow-up of 42 months the overall 6-year freedom from relapse for African-Americans was 63% compared to 61% for whites (p = 0.634). We found no significant differences in biochemical relapse rates between any subgroups of African-Americans and whites. Specifically, even patients who did not have androgen ablation, when stratified by PSA levels, had similar outcomes regardless of race. Likewise, local recurrence and metastasis rates were not significantly different between the two groups. Conclusions: Although African-American patients tend to have higher pretreatment PSA levels than white patients, the outcome for the disease is similar in the two groups when stratified by known pretreatment prognostic factors. Our data provide no evidence for the hypothesis that prostate cancer in African- Americans is intrinsically more virulent than in whites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-523
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Prognosis
  • Prostate cancer
  • Race
  • Radiation therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


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