They sequenced the germline DNA of 743 black men diagnosed with prostate cancer at 62 years of age or younger. This is DNA found in men’s sperm cells, meaning it would contain genetic changes that could be passed on to a child.
Researchers identified 26 variants in 14 genes that could cause disease among 30 men, approximately 4% of the patients studied.
“We completed sequencing at Duke and our results reveal that men who had certain genetic variants were more likely to have a close relative diagnosed with cancer, have a higher prostate-specific antigen at time of diagnosis, and have more severe cases,” Cooney said.
“We need to take a closer look at genetic associations to learn more about the susceptibility black men have to developing prostate cancer,” Cooney said. “This could potentially reduce health disparities.”
The reason for poor outcomes among black men diagnosed with prostate cancer includes both biological and societal causes, such as access to health care. Data from a previous study reveals genetic make-up may account for up to 40% of all prostate cancer cases.
“If men know they have a family history of cancer, it’s important to talk to a doctor and consider genetic testing. If they end up having a mutation, they’re encouraged to have cancer screenings earlier and more frequently,” Cooney said.
Additional authors of the study include Matthew Trendowski, Christopher Sample, Tara Baird, Azita Sadeghpour, David Moon, Julie Ruterbusch, and Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer.
The study received funding support from the Department of Defense (W81XWH-16-1-0713) and the National Institutes of Health (3T32 HG008955-04S1).