To assess trends in the initial care of nonmetastatic prostate cancer, including the use of primary and adjuvant androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), using population-based treatment claims from 1991 to 1999. We used a database linking the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry with Medicare claims to extract treatment information for 90,128 men aged 65 years and older, who were newly diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer. The use of aggressive therapy has increased among white men over time; but aggressive therapy has recently declined among African-American men. Accounting for age, grade, socioeconomic status, and comorbidity, African-American men were 26% less likely to receive aggressive therapy than white men (odds ratio 0.74; 95% confidence interval 0.70 to 0.79). The use of ADT has increased substantially in both the primary and the adjuvant settings. By 1999, 45.6% of white men and 35.8% of African-American men who selected conservative management received primary ADT; among men treated with external beam radiotherapy, the proportion receiving adjuvant ADT was 53.7% for white men and 42.4% for African-American men (P <0.001). Racial differences in the use of aggressive and conservative therapies are increasing. ADT is becoming a widely adopted component of initial treatment for localized prostate cancer. It is crucial to understand the impact of treatment patterns, including the increased use of ADT, on patient survival, morbidity, and costs of care.
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