The impact of marital status on tumor aggressiveness, treatment, and screening among black and white men diagnosed with prostate cancer

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Cancer Causes and Control


Purpose: To examine the association of marital status with prostate cancer outcomes in a racially-diverse cohort. Methods: The study population consisted of men (1010 Black; 1070 White) with incident prostate cancer from the baseline North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer (PCaP) cohort. Marital status at time of diagnosis and screening history were determined by self-report. The binary measure of marital status was defined as married (including living as married) vs. not married (never married, divorced/separated, or widowed). High-aggressive tumors were defined using a composite measure of PSA, Gleason Score, and stage. Definitive treatment was defined as receipt of radical prostatectomy or radiation. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine the association of marital status with (1) high-aggressive tumors, (2) receipt of definitive treatment, and (3) screening history among Black and White men with prostate cancer. Results: Black men were less likely to be married than White men (68.1% vs. 83.6%). Not being married (vs. married) was associated with increased odds of high-aggressive tumors in the overall study population (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR): 1.56; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.20–2.02) and both Black and White men in race-stratified analyses. Unmarried men were less likely to receive definitive treatment in the overall study population (aOR: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.54–0.85). In race-stratified analyses, unmarried Black men were less likely to receive definitive treatment. Both unmarried Black and White men were less likely to have a history of prostate cancer screening than married men. Conclusion: Lower rates of marriage among Black men might signal decreased support for treatment decision-making, symptom management, and caregiver support which could potentially contribute to prostate cancer disparities.

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