Black ExperienceHealth

New Prostate Test Could Help African American Men

Black Philanthropist Robert F. Smith Aids Effort

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and Black philanthropist Robert F. Smith have partnered to reduce diagnoses and deaths of prostate cancer, one of the largest health issues facing African American men today.

The research Smith is supporting will lead to the development of the Smith Polygenic Risk Test for Prostate Cancer, a noninvasive, early detection test that will identify a man’s lifetime risk of prostate cancer by using a combination of more than 250 genetic variants obtained from a single sample of saliva or blood.

The Smith Test is expected to cost less than $90 and will be made available in PCF’s dedicated Veterans Affairs network of Centers of Excellence.

“As African American men are at an increased risk for being diagnosed or dying from prostate cancer, understanding their risk profile and applying this knowledge earlier with strategic detection, care, and decisions about cancer risk management is of utmost importance to address health inequity in the U.S.,” Smith said.

“This is why I made a personal commitment to help accelerate research, encourage African American men to participate in the study and subsequent testing, and develop new detection strategies that have the power to transform how we diagnose and treat this disease and help save lives,” he said.

The research team led by Dr. Chris Haiman, a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Southern California, aims to reduce prostate cancer disparities for African American men by 2030.

The test is part of a larger PCF research initiative to improve the understanding of genetic risk in African American men and transform early detection and imaging strategies, risk management, and clinical decision-making by men at highest lifetime risk of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer affects more than three million men in the U.S., with one in nine men diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, according to the PCF. African American men are disproportionately affected.

The foundation says Black men are 76% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men and are more than twice as likely to die from the disease compared to men of other ethnicities.

“Earlier, strategic detection is a key step in finding a cure and ending the health disparity faced by men of African descent,” Haiman said.

PCF says most genomic studies of prostate cancer have focused on men of European ancestry, and there is a vital need for additional resources to develop and optimize a polygenic risk score in those disproportionately affected.

Haiman says this new Smith-PCF initiative will increase the representation of African American men in the study and vastly expand the research to quadruple the size of his study cohort, a key step to providing worldwide access to the Smith Polygenic Risk Test as soon as possible.

“Reducing prostate cancer disparities is at the heart of PCF’s mission to end prostate cancer once and for all,” said Dr. Jonathan W. Simons, CEO of PCF. “This test will democratize access to genetic testing and machine learning algorithms for prostate cancer risk. It will have a historical impact in public health, racial health justice, and cancer research.

“We are profoundly grateful to partner with Robert to close the health equity gap and spare more men the hardship of a late-stage prostate cancer diagnosis,” Simons said.

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Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s millennial publication. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, she attended Howard University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. A proud southern girl, her lineage can be traced to the Gullah people inhabiting the low-country of South Carolina. The history of the Gullah people and the Geechee Dialect can be found on the top floor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In her spare time she enjoys watching either college football or the Food Channel and experimenting with make-up. When she’s not writing professionally she can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com. E-mail: Swright@washingtoninformer.com Social Media Handles: Twitter: @dreamersexpress, Instagram: @Sarafinasaid, Snapchat: @Sarafinasaid

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