Genetic Alterations May Contribute to Black Men Dying from Prostate Cancer at a Disproportional Rate

Genetic alterations may contribute to African American men having higher instances of prostate cancer, and higher instances of dying from the disease, according a study published in Molecular Cancer Research.

Prostate cancer incidence and mortality are highest in African American men, but the exact reasons for the disparity are not fully understood,” said Jianfeng Xu, DrPH, Vice President of Translational Research at NorthShore University HealthSystem and senior author of the study via a press release. “The disparity is likely due to multiple factors, including socioeconomic differences and biology. We suspect that differences in the genetic changes that occur within tumors may play a critical role.”

The researchers collated data on 171 African American patients and 860 white patients from several public databases. They observed distinct copy number alterations between African American and white patients in the more aggressive, high-grade prostate tumors (Gleason score 7 or higher), but not in low-grade tumors. Overall, the results showed that high-grade tumors from African American patients were more likely to have additional copies of the MYC oncogene and deletions of the LRP1B, MAP3K7, BNIP3L, and RB1 genes than tumors from white patients. Gain of MYC and loss of MAP3K7 or RB1 were also associated with more advanced tumor stage.

 

“Our findings suggest that distinct genetic alterations in the prostate cancers of African American men, in comparison to white men, may contribute to more aggressive prostate cancer and could lead to a higher mortality rate,” said Xu. “If confirmed in other studies, these results will not only help to understand the racial disparity of prostate cancer but could also help guide personalized clinical management, such as predicting prognosis and guiding targeted therapy.”