Last year’s lockdown during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic erased cancer surgery from many hospitals’ calendars as they diverted resources to meet the mounting surge in Covid-19 patients. A new study reports a wide racial disparity in which men with prostate cancer during the pandemic’s first wave underwent a prostatectomy, a gap that was tightly tied to where they received cancer care.
Before the pandemic, there was little difference between Black and white men in their rates of receiving the surgery, considered the standard of care for prostate cancer patients whose cancer had not spread and who were at intermediate to high risk. From mid-March to mid-May 2019, about 18% of Black men and 19% of white men had the procedure to remove the prostate gland. A year later, only 1% of Black men had a prostatectomy, while 26% of white patients did during those two months of lockdown.