Mo Bro ScottyImage by: Movember
5 January 2021

Why Black men are at higher risk of prostate cancer

2 minutes read time

Scientists have come a step closer to understanding why Black men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as other men, thanks to Movember-funded research.

A major new study by a team of international researchers has revealed that Black men are more likely than White or Asian men to have a range of genetic changes that increase their risk of getting the disease.

The team, led by scientists at the University of Southern California in the US and the Institute of Cancer Research in London, analysed the genetics of 200,000 men.

They were able to identify 86 new genetic changes that are associated with the disease – bringing the total number of genetic changes that influence the risk of prostate cancer to 269.

Testing for these genetic changes could pick out men who might benefit from earlier and more regular screening.

Study co-leader Professor Ros Eeles, Professor of Oncogenetics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “Prostate cancer incidence differs across racial and ethnic groups and it is higher in men of African ancestry and lower in Asian men compared with men of European ancestry.

" Genetic factors underlie racial and ethnic differences in the incidence of prostate cancer "

“In our new study, we’ve shown that genetic factors underlie racial and ethnic differences in the incidence of prostate cancer – and by testing for a range of genetic changes, we can identify men of African ancestry who may be at high risk and could benefit from screening.

“Our findings greatly improve our understanding of genetic risk in men of African ancestry and could help guide and transform screening strategies, so that prostate cancer in men at high risk can be caught as early as possible.”

Paul Villanti, Executive Director of Programmes at Movember, said: “It is terrific to see the progress that has been made to better understand why black men are at greater risk of developing prostate cancer.

“The challenge now is to explore how genetic screening could be used to reduce the number of black men being diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.

“Movember is delighted to have supported this work and will continue to play a role in translating these findings into clinical practice.”

The study, which published in the journal Nature Genetics on January 4th, was funded by the National Institutes of Health in the US, with support from Movember and Prostate Cancer UK through the Movember Centre of Excellence.