Oct. 28 (UPI) -- More than one-third of Black men with prostate cancer carry potentially dangerous genetic mutations that cause more severe disease, an analysis published Wednesday by the journal Molecular Cancer Research found.
Researchers sequenced 39 genes of interest in prostate cancer tumors and matched normal tissue from 77 Black-American men with prostate cancer, finding that roughly 35% of patients' tumors harbored potentially damaging mutations in several genes.
"Our research suggests that there may be key genetic differences in the prostate tumors of individuals who belong to different race groups," study co-author Jianfeng Xu told UPI. "This could impact the way their cancer progresses and the treatment options available to them."
"And we found that certain mutations that contribute to disease aggressiveness are more frequent in the tumors of African-American men compared to Caucasian men," said Xu, vice president of translational research at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago.
However, this latter finding requires further confirmation from other independent studies, Xu said.
Some 200,000 men in the United States are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually, and more than 30,000 die from the disease each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Black American men are about twice as likely to suffer from prostate cancer and die from it as White American men, the National Cancer Institute estimates.
The genetic mutations found among Black prostate cancer patients were in several DNA repair genes, the researchers said.
Specifically, nine of 77 Black-American men with prostate cancer, or 12%, had tumors harboring mutations in one of the genes, compared with about 3% of tumors from 410 White American patients, the data showed.
Mutations in that gene have been linked to poor prognosis in prostate cancer, according to the researchers.
The researchers also compared data from 171 Black American patients and 860 White American patients from several public databases, finding more genetic change differences between Black American and White American men with more aggressive, high-grade prostate tumors, but not in low-grade tumors, the researchers said.
High-grade tumors, or those that grow and spread more quickly, in Black men were found to have more copies of a gene that converts regular cells into cancer cells and deletions of four other genes than were found in tumors from White patients, they said.
These copies and deletions have been linked with more advanced tumors, according to the researchers.
"We already know that certain mutations in a person's genes could help ... when choosing the right treatment and management plan for cancer patients," Xu said.
"We advise that patients work closely with their physician to discuss how these findings could impact their care management plan," he said.
"There is still much work to be done until we can make use of these findings, but personalized cancer care offers great opportunities for customizing the way we manage prostate cancer."