Is Prostate Cancer More Common in Black Men?

DNA differences may account for prostate cancer disparities

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Prostate cancer cases and deaths are more common in African-American men than in white men, and scientists have recently identified what's behind this disparity.

Researchers now know that genetic differences contribute to the difference in prostate cancer prevalence among black and white men.

Researchers examined normal and malignant prostate tissue from black and white men who had undergone prostate biopsies. The study focused on two major genetic components - messenger RNA (mRNA) and microRNA. mRNA is involved in making proteins, and microRNA regulates the process.

"Screen for prostate cancer at age 50; at age 40 if it's in your family's DNA."

Bi-Dar Wang, Ph.D., assistant research professor of pharmacology and physiology at the George Washington University, says a number of factors - both socioeconomic and environmental - play a role in the different levels of prostate cancer among the groups. In a recent study, he led a team of investigators that examined genetic factors.

Dr. Wang's team said the differences in these components are so significant that each race has what's termed "population specific" mRNA and microRNA.

Nearly 400 mRNAs were expressed differently in African-American and white men. This is important because both mRNA and microRNA play vital roles in the formation or blocking of prostate cancer tumors.

Dr. Wang thinks this discovery could lead to the development of more specific and specialized detection and treatment options for black men.

Findings from this research were presented at the Fourth American Association for Cancer Research Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

Research that has not been published in a peer reviewed journal is considered preliminary.

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Review Date: 
September 19, 2011
Last Updated:
September 20, 2011