Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men, causing more than 40,000 deaths annually. Although it can occur in men of all ages, it most often strikes those over the age of 65. Scientists are just beginning to study why prostate cancer is more prevalent in African-American men than in any other population, and are focusing closely on the role of inherited factors. For every 100,000 African-American men, for example, about 181 will have prostate cancer this year, 54 of whom will die from the disease.
Scientists at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) have mapped the location of a gene associated with increased risk of prostate cancer (See: Researchers Link Gene to Hereditary Form of Prostate Cancer). They estimate alterations in this gene, called HPC-1, are responsible for at lease one-third of the prostate cancer that runs in families. Approximately one in every 500 men is believed to possess an altered version of HPC-1. Initial studies suggest that HPC-1 may play a particularly prominent role in early onset familial prostate cancer among African-Americans, but only a few such families have been analyzed.
The African American Hereditary Prostate Cancer (AAHPC) Study Network involves predominantly African American scientists and physicians participating at all levels of the planning and implementation of this national cooperative prostate cancer study. It is organized by scientists at Howard University and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health (NHIH), in conjunction with clinical investigators, at collaborative recruitment centers (CRCs) in seven major urban areas, who identify and enroll qualified families in this study. The AAHPC study network was launched in January 1998 with major funding from the NIH Office of Research on Minority Health, in partnership with the NHGRI. Additional funding has been provided by the National Cancer Institute.
Rick Kittles, Ph.D.
Phone: (202) 806-6979
Last Reviewed: May 11, 2012