Racial disparities in the use of palliative therapy for ureteral obstruction among elderly patients with advanced prostate cancer
Spencer BA, Insel BJ, Hershman DL, Benson MC, Neugut AI. Support Care Cancer. 2013 Jan 6. [Epub ahead of print]


Department of Urology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA, bas10@columbia.edu.



Palliative issues are an important but understudied issue for patients with advanced cancer. Ureteral obstruction is a complication of advanced prostate cancer, usually relieved with placement of retrograde ureteral stent (RUS) or percutaneous nephrostomy (PCN) to palliate symptoms associated with obstructive uropathy and/or renal failure. We investigated predictors of receipt of RUS and PCN and their association with survival for older advanced prostate cancer patients.


Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database, we identified patients aged 65 or older with stage IV (n = 10,848) or recurrent (n = 7,872) prostate cancer. We used multivariable analysis to compare those with ureteral obstruction treated with RUS or PCN to those not treated and to analyze the association between RUS, PCN, and survival.


Sixteen percent (n = 2,958) of the sample developed ureteral obstruction. Compared to no treatment, African Americans were more likely to undergo placement of PCN [odds ratio 1.48, 95 % confidence intervals (CI) 1.03-2.13] than Whites, but equally likely to receive a stent. Subjects of >80 years were less likely to undergo RUS (ages 80-84, 0.41, 95 % CI 0.27-0.63; ages ≥85, 0.30, 95 % CI 0.16-0.54) compared to patients 65-69 years. Subjects who received a PCN were 55 % more likely to die than those who were untreated. There was no difference in survival among those receiving RUS vs untreated. Nine percent of subjects received RUS or PCN within 30 days of dying.


This is the first population-based study to demonstrate a racial disparity in the palliative treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Reasons for disparate care need to be determined so that interventions may be developed.