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Genetic susceptibility to prostate cancer in men of African descent: implications for global dispari

Charnita M Zeigler-Johnson, Elaine Spangler, Mohamed Jalloh, Serigne M Gueye, Hanna Rennert, Timothy R Rebbeck

First published: Feb 2008

PMID: 18304397 PMCID: PMC3064717


Introduction: Disparities in prostate cancer incidence and outcomes are a hallmark of the global pattern of prostate cancer, with men of African descent suffering disproportionately from this disease. The causes of these disparities are poorly understood.

Methods: A review of the literature was undertaken to evaluate the role that genetic susceptibility may play in prostate cancer etiology and outcomes, with a particular emphasis on disparities.

Results: The genetic contribution to prostate cancer is well established, and a number of candidate prostate cancer genes have been identified. Significant differences in the frequency of risk alleles in these genes have been identified across the major races. These allele frequency differences may in part explain an increased susceptibility to prostate cancer in some populations. In addition, non-genetic factors contribute significantly to prostate cancer disparities, and the cumulative contribution of both genetic and non-genetic factors to poor-prognosis prostate cancer may explain the poorer outcomes experienced by men of African descent.

Conclusions: Prostate cancer disparities are a function of genetic susceptibility as well as environment, behavior, and health care factors acting in the context of this genetic susceptibility. Elimination of global prostate cancer disparities requires a full understanding of the effects of all of these factors on prostate cancer etiology and outcomes.

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