A scientist marks up a lab sample
PROFILE TrialImage by: Movember
A scientist marks up a lab sample
16 October 2020

Movember-funded study looks at why Black men are at high risk of prostate cancer

2 minutes read time

Movember-funded researchers are aiming to solve the mystery of why Black men develop prostate cancer at twice the rate of other men.

The UK-based PROFILE study will look at the genes of men of African and Caribbean descent to see if they can learn to predict prostate cancer risk and find better ways of diagnosing and treating the disease.

“It is vitally important that we understand what it is that makes prostate cancer more common in men of African and Caribbean descent," says study leader, Professor Ros Eeles.

“We know the secret may lie in changes in the DNA passed on through generations and inherited by the men from their parents. But the only way to understand fully the role played by genetics is to do a study like this one, with enough participants to be able to see the bigger picture."

In the UK, one in four Black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime - double the one in eight risk faced by all men.

“Studies have shown that African and Caribbean men are more likely to have prostate cancer. In addition, they are also more likely to have more aggressive forms of the disease," says Sarah Hsiao, Director Biomedical Research and Impact at Movember.

" It is vitally important that we understand what it is that makes prostate cancer more common in men of African and Caribbean descent "

“This study will uncover the responsible changes in DNA these men inherit through generations, which will be critical in developing appropriate screening strategies for early detection of prostate cancer in African and Caribbean men.”

The study - which has resumed after being forced to halt recruitment due to the Covid-19 pandemic - is funded through the Movember Centre of Excellence, in partnership with PCUK.

It is currently open to men aged 40-69, who are of African or Caribbean descent and haven’t previously had prostate cancer and will continue to recruit men until 1st June 2021.

To help them understand Black men’s risk, the researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research in London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust will run a series of tests to look for clues in their DNA. The men will then be monitored over the next five years for signs of developing prostate cancer, using blood tests, scans, and biopsies.

The researchers hope this will identify why certain men are more likely to get prostate cancer. It is hoped the findings could lead to new approaches to help prevent or delay the disease – or point to treatments that may work better for this group of men.