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

wed the same link in Caucasian men.

"This study adds to an expanding body of evidence in support of the germ-line MSR1 mutations as risk factors for prostate cancer. Although our study was modest in size, the public health burden of prostate cancer in the African-American community warrants further attention to potential genetic risk factors," says David Miller, M.D., a resident in Urology at the U-M Medical School and lead author of the report.

While scientists believe there is a strong hereditary link in prostate cancer, it's been difficult to pin down the exact genes involved in this disease. Many men develop prostate cancer later in life, and some men may die before prostate cancer even develops, making it difficult to trace the disease through generations of families.

Knowing the genetic markers involved in prostate cancer could help determine which men are at highest risk. Currently, physicians say men with a family history of the disease and African-American men are at the highest risk. Genetic risk factors could help narrow that down even further, indicating when more aggressive tests or therapies are necessary.

In addition to this paper, the Flint Men's Health Study has looked at prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, levels and differences in the frequency and severity of prostate cancer symptoms in African-American men. The study began collecting data in 1996 and identified 817 eligible African-American men ages 40-79 to participate. The study subjects were recruited from Flint, Mich., an urban area north of Detroit with a high African-American population. Of the eligible group, 369 participants underwent an interview, clinical exam and serum test. Researchers contacted the participants again in 2000 for further testing; 183 took part in the second wave.

Aside from the large African-American participation, the study is unusual because it recruited people through the community, not through a hospital setting. Part of the di
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
1-Jul-2003


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