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African-American men are known to be at a greater risk of receiving a positive PSA test for prostate cancer, but the cause of this was unclear. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Southern California has shown that the reasons for this association may lie in these men's genes.
The team compared the DNA of nearly 3,500 African-American men with prostate cancer to the genes of more than 3,000 cancer-free individuals. They found that a variation of the 17q21 chromosome, which occurs in 5 percent of the African-American population but is rare in individuals of other ethnicities, was particularly common in those with prostate cancer.
"We have been trying to figure out why African-American men have a greater risk for prostate cancer," said Christopher Haiman, who led the investigation. "These findings may help us better understand if there is a genetic contribution to disparities in risk for this common cancer."
He added that more research will need to be conducted before anyone can conclusively say that this gene variation is the root cause of African-American men's increased cancer risk. But the present findings could help guide future research.
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