Posted on January 29, 2021

Genes Help Explain Role of Race in Prostate Cancer Risk

Cara Murez, HealthDay News, January 7, 2021

If you’re a Black man, your risk of getting prostate cancer is 75% higher than it is for a white man, and it’s more than twice as deadly.

Now, research is helping to bring genetic risks for people of various racial and ethnic groups into focus. In doing so, dozens more risk factors that could better help pinpoint the odds of developing prostate cancer have been uncovered. And that could potentially lead to better screening protocols and earlier detection for men of all races, experts said.

“The potential utility of this is that it can be used to define men who are at elevated risk of developing prostate cancer,” said lead author Christopher Haiman, professor of preventive medicine at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

“This is knowledge that men could find out, I hate to say it, but at birth,” he added.

More likely, men would get this information later in life, Haiman said, but clinicians could use it to determine when blood tests to screen for prostate cancer should begin and how often screening should occur.

Researchers from the USC Center for Genetic Epidemiology in Los Angeles and the Institute of Cancer Research in London led the study.

They noted that past prostate cancer studies included an overrepresentation of white men, making it more difficult to understand and address variations in risk by race.


The study — described as the most diverse genetic analysis for prostate cancer ever — included men of African, Asian, Hispanic and European ancestry.


Using a model for assessing risk based on an interplay of genetic risk factors, the investigators found that men of African ancestry inherit twice the prostate cancer risk on average as men of European ancestry. Men of Asian ancestry inherit about three-quarters the risk of white men.

That is evidence that genetics play some role in the differences in frequency of prostate cancer among various racial groups, the study authors said.

Though genes appear to be responsible for the greater risk in men of African descent, there is no evidence that genes make the disease more aggressive, Haiman said. Yet Black men are more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease and to die of prostate cancer, he added.