Older Black Men Often Fall Short on Post-Cancer Care

FRIDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Older black and Hispanic male cancer survivors are less likely than their white peers to see a specialist or to receive basic preventive care such as vaccinations, a new study of American men finds.

However, these racial/ethnic disparities in health care were not evident among younger male cancer survivors.

For the study, researchers analyzed U.S. National Health Interview Survey data from more than 2,700 male cancer survivors 18 and older and compared them in four areas: primary and specialist care visits, and flu and pneumonia vaccinations.

Among older survivors (65 and older), about 39 percent of blacks and 42 percent of Hispanics did not see a specialist, compared with 26 percent of whites, the investigators found. About 40 percent of blacks and Hispanics did not receive a flu shot, compared with 22 percent of whites.

The Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers also found that 51 percent of blacks and 59 percent of Hispanics did not receive the pneumonia vaccine, compared with 29 percent of whites, according to the study published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Overall, our results suggest that older minority male cancer survivors may need specific support to ensure they receive necessary post-treatment care," lead author Nynikka Palmer, a postdoctoral fellow, said in a Wake Forest Baptist news release.

"These findings are consistent with other reports of health care use among cancer survivors," Palmer said, "and suggest there may be differences in types of Medicare health plans, supplemental insurance and out-of-pocket costs among older survivors that could be contributing to this disparity."

Palmer added that the study results are cause for concern "because regular follow-up care is important to monitor for recurrence, new cancers, and late and long-term effects of cancer and its treatment," particularly for patients with other health problems.

Further research is needed to identify other factors that may influence racial/ethnic disparities among older male cancer survivors, such as patients' beliefs about care after cancer and patient-doctor communication, the study authors noted in the news release.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers tips for cancer survivors.

SOURCE: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, news release, July 15, 2013