Background: African American men with prostate cancer are at higher risk for cancer-specific death than Caucasian men. We determine whether significant delays in management contribute to this disparity. We hypothesize that in an equal-access health care system, time interval from diagnosis to treatment would not differ by race. Methods: We identified 1,532 African American and Caucasian men who underwent radical prostatectomy (RP) from 1988 to 2007at one of four Veterans Affairs Medical Centers that comprise the Shared Equal-Access Regional Cancer Hospital (SEARCH) database with known biopsy date. We compared time from biopsy to RP between racial groups using linear regression adjusting for demographic and clinical variables. We analyzed risk of potential clinically relevant delays by determining odds of delays >90 and >180 days. Results: Median time interval from diagnosis to RP was 76 and 68 days for African Americans and Caucasianmen, respectively (P = 0.004). After controlling for demographic and clinical variables, race was not associated with the time interval between diagnosis and RP (P = 0.09). Furthermore, race was not associated with increased risk of delays >90 (P = 0.45) or >180 days (P = 0.31). Conclusions: In a cohort of men undergoing RP in an equal-access setting, there was no significant difference between racial groups with regard to time interval from diagnosis to RP. Thus, equal-access includes equal timely access to the operating room. Given our previous finding of poorer outcomes among African Americans, treatment delays do not seem to explain these observations. Our findings need to be confirmed in patients electing other treatment modalities and in other practice settings.
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