Differences in Treatment, Not Genes, Keep Black Mens' Prostate Cancer Death Rates High

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TUESDAY, May 30, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Black men die from prostate cancer more frequently than other men. They also shoulder the greatest burden of advanced prostate disease around the world.

Now, new research shows genetics are not to blame.

Rather, the culprit is treatment disparities, researchers report.

“I believe this is the largest and most representative genomic study of advanced prostate cancer in men of African and European ancestry,” said senior study author Dr. Brandon Mahal. He is an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

“The data clearly show no notable differences in genetic mutations between the ancestries that we would target for treatment, which suggests these mutations probably are not driving disparities in advanced prostate cancer,” Mahal said in a cancer center news release.

Black men were less likely to get comprehensive genetic profiling of their tumors early in treatment, the study of nearly 13,000 men with advanced prostate cancer found.

Without this genetic profiling, Black men then do not benefit from testing that can lead to genetically targeted therapy and improve their outcomes. They may instead have less effective treatments as their cancer progresses.

Men of African ancestry were also less likely than men of European ancestry to go into clinical trials for prostate cancer. These typically involve newer, more effective treatments for aggressive disease, Mahal said.

“We’ve known for a couple of decades that prostate cancer disparities are some of the largest disparities we see across all cancer types. This research can help focus our efforts on what’s needed to address these disparities,” Mahal added.

Still, future studies should not ignore examining genomics, he said.

“While this study looked at advanced prostate cancer and diminished the focus on genomics as the reason for disparities, there is still a reason to study the role of genomics in men’s risk for developing prostate cancer,” Mahal noted.

The findings were published in the June issue of The Lancet Digital Health.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on prostate cancer.

SOURCE: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, news release, May 24, 2023

What This Means For You

New research reveals that treatment disparities, and not genetics, appear to explain why Black men die from prostate cancer more often than other men do.

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