Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Differences in education levels, income and insurance status likely contribute to racial disparities in deaths from prostate cancer, an analysis published Tuesday by the journal Cancer found.
Prostate cancer death rates are 51% higher for Black Americans, compared to White Americans, according to researchers at Vanderbilt University.
However, if Black Americans and White Americans had similar education levels, median household income and insurance status, the gap in the death rate would drop from 51% to 30%, the researchers said.
"Socioeconomic status and insurance status are all changeable factors," study co-author Dr. Wanqing Wen, a research associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said in a press release.
"Unfortunately, the socioeconomic status inequality in the United States has continued to increase over the past decades," he said.
Black American men are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with -- and more than twice as likely to die from -- prostate cancer than White American men, the organization Zero Cancer estimates.
For this study, the researchers analyzed data from the National Cancer Database on more than 525,000 adults who underwent prostate removal surgery between 2001 and 2014.
The study population included 432,640 White Americans, 63,602 Black Americans, 8,990 Asians and Pacific Islanders and 21,458 Hispanic Americans, and five-year survival rates were 95% or higher for all demographic groups.
Education, median household income and insurance status contributed most to racial disparities in death rates, the data showed.
Nearly 12% of Black Americans lack health insurance, while just under 8% of White Americans are uninsured, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In addition, the median household income for Black Americans is about 70% lower than it is for White Americans, and 26% of Black Americans earn a college degree, below the national average for all racial and ethnic groups of 36% based on U.S. census data.
"We hope our study findings can enhance public awareness that the racial survival difference, particularly between Black and White prostate patients, can be narrowed by erasing the racial inequities in socioeconomic status and health care," Wen said.