African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than any other male population and the largest research effort to study these statistics was announced by two agencies within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) are collaborating on a coordinated study to explore environmental and genetic factors at play in the development and aggressiveness of prostate cancer in African-American men compared to the general male population. The study, called Research on Prostate Cancer in Men of African Ancestry or RESPOND, has a reported $26.5 million to put toward this effort.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in men (after skin cancer), according to the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. Prostate cancers are most often adenocarcinomas, but other types include: sarcomas, small cell carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors, and transitional cell carcinomas. There are nearly 165,000 new cases of prostate cancer a year in the United States. The risks of prostate cancer in men are very high; nearly 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with this type of cancer in their lifetime. Over ten percent of the male population will get this cancer and two percent of the male population is estimated will die of prostate cancer. In some instances, the disease is more aggressive, as is found the case for many African-American men compared to other races or ethnic groups. In African-American men, the NIMHD reports that risk increases from 10 percent to 15 percent. The risk of death from this diagnosis doubles for African-American men also, from 2 percent to 4 percent.
The lead researchers in the study are taking molecular approaches and combining those with social and environmental science techniques to investigate the interactions of these factors and their contribution to disease differences in this population. The goal is to provide better personalized medicine for this group of prostate cancer patients. Previous studies have taken these factors on their individual merits, but none have combined them to create a multifactorial study design like this.
The list of collaborators is lengthy and includes: researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, San Francisco; NCI’s Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics Division; the Center for Inherited Disease Research at Johns Hopkins University, NCI’s Cancer Control and Population Sciences Division, the African Ancestry Prostate Cancer consortium, NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program; the National Program of Cancer Registries at Center for Disease Control and Prevention; the 21st Century Cures Cancer Moonshot Initiative; and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.