A New Genetic Tool May Reduce Deaths from Prostate in African-American Men

Grantee: Kosj Yamoah, MD, PhD
Institution: H. Lee Moffitt  Cancer Care & Research Institute in Tampa, Fla.
Term: 7/1/2017 to 6/30/2022

The Challenge: African American men in the United States are 1.7 times more likely to get prostate cancer and 2.3 times more likely to die from it compared to European American men. Doctors use a tool to help predict how aggressive a man’s prostate cancer may be. With this information, the doctor can better guide decisions about treatment. The problem is, it’s not clear whether these tools apply to African American men. 

The Research: Previous researchers have established that ethnic differences in genes affect prostate tumors. These genetic differences are partly responsible for the increased risk an African American man has for getting prostate cancer and dying from it. Yamoah and his fellow researchers believe that genetic information in a prostate tumor may give hints about where the tumors are located, making them easier to find and biopsy. The team also thinks tumor genes may suggest how aggressively the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.

With the support of a grant from the American Cancer Society, Yamoah is developing a new predictive tool, using genetic information, to help guide treatment for prostate cancer. Relying on genetic data means the tool should be valuable to African American men as well as European American men. 

The Goal and Long-term Possibilities: Yamoah’s findings may improve doctors’ ability to find and diagnose prostate tumors and recommend more personalized treatment choices for aggressive tumors. His work to better use genetic differences between ethnic groups may help reduce the large differences (disparities) for getting and dying from prostate cancer between ethnic groups. To learn more, listen to this podcast with Dr. Yamaoh.