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USC to lead first large-scale study on African-American men with prostate cancer

Multimillion-dollar effort will look at social stressors and genetics

African American men more likely to die from Prostate Cancer
The large-scale study will look at biological and social factors to understand why African-American men are more likely to die from prostate cancer. (Photo/Shutterstock)

The Keck School of Medicine of USC will lead a $26.5 million effort to conduct the first large-scale, multi-institutional study on African-American men with prostate cancer. The study aims to better understand why the men are at higher risk for developing more aggressive forms of the disease and why they are more likely to die from it.

Funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the study will look at the role of social stressors and genetics in the development of prostate cancer in African-American men. Researchers hope to recruit 10,000 African-American men to participate in the nationwide study.

“Not only are African-American men more likely to develop prostate cancer, but they are twice as likely to have an aggressive, more lethal form of the disease, and we don’t know why,” said the project’s principal investigator Christopher Haiman, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine. “It’s a health disparity that needs to be addressed. Considerable money, time and effort has gone into studies in men of European ancestry; it is time for a large-scale effort devoted to men of African ancestry.”

Aggressive prostate cancer study focuses on biological, social factors

The study will focus on biological and social factors that may influence the development of prostate cancer in this group of males. Social stressors such as discrimination, socioeconomic status, education, early life events and where men live will be assessed via an online survey. Studies have shown that stress affects health, but little is known about whether stress has an impact on the development of aggressive prostate cancer, Haiman explained.

Men participating in the study will also be asked to provide a saliva sample and to grant permission for researchers to access their prostate cancer biopsy tissue. The samples will be used to identify genetic markers for prostate cancer and tumor characteristics, with a special emphasis on aggressive prostate cancer. All donated biological samples will be used solely for research purposes.

We plan to look at variations in DNA that are associated with prostate cancer overall.

Christopher Haiman

“We plan to look at variations in DNA that are associated with prostate cancer overall and, more importantly, for aggressive forms of prostate cancer that are lethal,” Haiman said. “These genetic markers will ultimately help us to identify men in future generations who are at high and low risk for prostate cancer.”

Other institutions participating in the study include Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Jersey State Cancer Registry, New Jersey Department of Health, Public Health Institute, Emory University, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, LSU Health New Orleans, Baylor College of Medicine, Moffitt Cancer Center, Wayne State University and University of California, San Francisco.

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USC to lead first large-scale study on African-American men with prostate cancer

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