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New test to tackle ‘staggering’ prostate cancer rates in Black men being developed

Black men are twice as likely to get prostate cancer compared to white men

Nadine White
Race Correspondent
Tuesday 05 July 2022 07:26 BST
<p>The project, the first of its kind, has been made possible thanks to a grant from Prostate Cancer Research</p>

The project, the first of its kind, has been made possible thanks to a grant from Prostate Cancer Research

A new genetic blood test is being developed for Black men in the hope of tackling the “staggering” racial disparities in prostate cancer diagnoses.

Scientists are hoping to develop a new test using DNA information and AI technology to help improve detection of the disease among Black men, who are twice as likely to develop and die from prostate cancer compared to white men.

The team, from University of East Anglia (UEA), Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust and Oxford Biodynamics, previously discovered that prostate cancer tumours leave a genetic imprint on blood cells.

They hope to look for genetic markers in the blood of Black patients and compare them to white patients and people in a control group without cancer.

Prof Dmitry Pshezhetskiy, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “In the UK there is a racial disparity in prostate cancer, where Black patients are twice as likely to develop the disease and die of it than white men.

“Recent research shows that this staggering racial difference for prostate cancer diagnosis and mortality is due to genetic differences, but their exact nature is currently not known.

“We want to create a fundamentally new, highly accurate genetic blood test for prostate cancer in Black men, taking into account their genetic diversity.

“Developing tailored genetic testing is really important because getting an early diagnosis allows better treatment. The five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer is 100 per cent, compared with only 50 per cent for those with stage four cancer.”

The project, the first of its kind, has been made possible thanks to a grant from Prostate Cancer Research.

The charity says one in four Black men across the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime – double the one in eight risk faced by all men.

Prostate Cancer Research has committed to funding at least three rounds of targeted projects, which will explore solutions to the racial disparity within prostate cancer over the next three years, as part of a broader health inequities programme also looking at health literacy and data.

Dr Naomi Elster, director of research at Prostate Cancer Research, said: “This important work led by Prof Pshezhetskiy is not only advancing our technology, it’s making sure that the most cutting-edge technology takes diversity into account so that it will work for everyone.

“There is a real need for a new way to diagnose prostate cancer, as the PSA blood test we currently use is not as accurate as we want, rectal exams are invasive and people understandably are not comfortable with them, and imaging techniques such as MRI require specialist equipment that may not always be available. We see real potential in this targeted genetic test.”

It comes after Cancer Research UK warned in March that more must be done to prevent a surge in preventable cancer cases among ethnic minority groups owing to what has been described as “lifestyle risks” such as smoking and obesity.

Studies have shown that these factors are often brought about or exacerbated by external factors such as healthcare inequalities, poverty and discrimination.

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