• African gene may make tumours more aggressive, drug-resistant, study suggests
Experts have long known that African American men are more likely to die from prostate cancer, but a new study may have found the reason why. Previous research has shown that black men are 74 percent more likely to get the disease than white men and are twice as likely to die from it. Now a new study suggests African-American males have a certain genetic makeup that makes prostate tumors more aggressive and resistant to drug treatments. Researchers believe this difference may contribute to the large mortality disparity between black and white men when it comes to the cancer.
The study was done by researchers at the George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center in Washington DC. Experts found that genetic variation, called differential RNA splicing, could play a role in tumor aggressiveness and treatability of African-American men.
The study reported that the splicing led molecules to contain different combinations of cell proteins, which eventually made tumors more aggressive. When exposed to prostate cancer treatments, due to the genetic variation of these proteins, the drug was ineffective and was also resisted by the body. Blacks were more likely to think their cancer was not aggressive and were more likely to worry about the treatment’s cost and side effects than their white counterparts.
Researchers suggest black men are less likely to receive aggressive treatment because they are more worried about the cost and how the medicine will impact their daily life.
The five-year survival rate for men with prostate cancer is 99 percent and the 15-year survival rate is 96 percent. But these statistics only apply to men who receive treatment.
Non-white men are less likely to have surgery to treat their prostate cancer, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.