Prostate Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Biologic Differences in Prostate Tumors in Men of African Ancestry: Clinical Implications

By: Sarah Campen, PharmD
Posted: Thursday, September 3, 2020

In a study published in Clinical Cancer Research, researchers from Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago identified genomic alterations that seemed to be more frequent in prostate tumors of men from African ancestry compared with other racial groups. However, these genetic differences did not appear to explain significant differences in health outcomes in Black Americans, suggesting that existing precision prostate cancer therapies—including recently approved PARP inhibitors—may be equally beneficial if applied equitably.

“This highlights the need to examine the environmental and social inequities that are well known to influence health outcomes across the board,” stated Franklin Huang, MD, PhD, of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), in a UCSF press release.

The researchers compared the frequencies of somatic alterations in prostate cancer to identify genomic alterations associated with race. They included 4 publicly available data sets comprising of 250 African American men and 611 European American men. Also included was a targeted sequencing data set from a commercial platform of 436 African American men and 3,018 European American men.

Tumors from African American men had more frequent mutations in ZFHX3 and focal deletions in ETV3. Although MYC amplifications were more frequent in tumors from African American men with metastatic prostate cancer, deletions in PTEN and rearrangements in TMPRSS2-ERG were less frequent. However, genomic features that could impact clinical decision-making did not significantly differ between the two groups.

“These results reinforce the idea that there can be biological differences in prostate cancers between different ancestral groups and that samples from Black Americans need to be included in future molecular studies to fully understand these differences,” concluded study coauthor Joshua Campbell, PhD, of the Boston University School of Medicine.

Disclosure: For full authors’ disclosures, visit

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