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Scientists search for clues in prostate cancer ethnic puzzle (3-09-01)

African-American men develop prostate cancer earlier in their lives and are more likely to die from it than white, non-Hispanic men. Dr. Ian Thompson’s research group at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is seeking answers to this conundrum.

The group’s report, “Association of African-American Ethnic Background with Survival in Men with Metastatic Prostate Cancer,” was published in the Feb. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Thompson’s team applied statistical regression analysis to data from 288 African-American and 975 white men, all with metastatic prostate cancer. The poorer survival of African-American men with this cancer could not be explained by prognostic variables such as higher prostate-specific antigen levels (PSAs) or younger age at study entry.

“We asked very pointed questions to determine why the survival of African-American men with metastatic prostate cancer was so much worse in a study in which the treatment of all men was identical,” Dr. Thompson said. “After we corrected for all measurable and known reasons why cancer survival is different, African-American men still had shorter survival than other men in the study. This difference emphasizes the importance of further studies investigating these differences with a goal of causing a fall in number of deaths from the disease.”

Contact: Will Sansom or Myong Covert