U-M researchers seek answers for African-Americans at risk for prostate cancer

Community-based study samples Flint, Mich., population of black men

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Doctors know that black men face a much higher risk of prostate cancer than whites, and a higher risk of dying from the disease. And while research is zeroing in on answers, too few African-American men have ever been involved enough to determine if a promising genetic finding applied to African-American as well as Caucasian men.

Now, a new study by University of Michigan Health System researchers found that the gene, macrophage scavenger receptor 1, or MSR1, does indeed play a role in prostate cancer in African-American men. The study, which will be published in the July 1 issue of the American Association for Cancer Research's journal Cancer Research, came from a larger project called the Flint Men's Health Study, aimed at identifying risk factors for prostate cancer in African-American men. It is a rare effort to recruit large numbers of African-Americans in a population-based research study.

"African-American men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world. The severity is higher and they tend to die more quickly after diagnosis," says Kathleen Cooney, M.D., associate professor of Internal Medicine and Surgery at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study. "We don't know why this is, but part of the difficulty is that African-American men are underrepresented in most genetics studies."

In this particular study, researchers looked at African-American men ages 40-79 who live in Flint, Mich. Researchers compared DNA samples from 134 African-American men diagnosed with prostate cancer with samples from 340 African-American men without prostate cancer. Five common variants and five recently reported mutations were analyzed. Researchers determined that rare germ-line MSR1 mutations were associated with an increased prostate cancer risk.

The findings echo previous studies' results that sho

Contact: Nicole Fawcett
University of Michigan Health System

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