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PURPOSE Men diagnosed with prostate cancer have multiple options available for treatment. Previous reports have indicated a trend of differing modalities of treatment chosen by African American and white men. We investigated the role of ethnicity in primary treatment choice and how this affected overall and cancer-specific mortality. METHODS By utilizing data abstracted from Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor (CaPSURE), patients were compared by ethnicity, primary treatment, number of comorbidities, risk level according to modified D'Amico criteria, age, highest educational level attained, type of insurance, treatment facility, and perception of general health. Multinomial logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the effect of the tested variables on primary treatment and mortality. Results African American men were more likely to receive nonsurgical therapy than white men with equivalent disease characteristics. Whites were 48% less likely than African Americans to receive androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) compared with surgery (P = .02) and were 25% less likely than African Americans to receive radiation therapy compared with surgery (P = .08). Whites with low-risk disease were 71% less likely to receive ADT than African American men with similar disease (P = .01). Adjusted overall and prostate cancer-specific mortality were not significantly different between whites and African Americans (hazard ratios, 0.73 and 0.37, respectively). Risk level, type of treatment, and type of insurance had the strongest effects on risk of mortality. CONCLUSION There is a statistically significant difference in primary treatment for prostate cancer between African American and white men with similar risk profiles. Additional research on the influence of patient/physician education and perception and the role that socioeconomic factors play in mortality from prostate cancer may be areas of focus for public health initiatives.