The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and Robert F. Smith, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners are supporting research on a new non-invasive genetic test to determine a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.
Named the Smith Polygenic Risk Test for Prostate Cancer, the tool is part of PCF’s large initiative to reduce prostate cancer disparities in African American men, who are 76% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasians, and twice as likely to die from it compared to other races.
The research, led by Chris Haiman, a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Southern California, aims to improve early detection of this disease and reduce the disparities of prostate cancer in African American men by 2030.
“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 in a press release.
“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 Smith Polygenic Risk Test for Prostate Cancer is a non-invasive test designed to determine a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. It analyzes more than 250 genetic variants linked to the disease using a single sample of saliva or blood.
The test, which is expected to cost less than $90, will be available in PCF’s dedicated Veterans Affairs (VA) network of Centers of Excellence, including the Robert Frederick Smith Center of Precision Oncology Excellence at the VA Chicago.
To date, most genetic studies of prostate cancer have included men of European ancestry, and findings may not be extrapolated to men of other races and ethnicities. Given the much higher incidence of prostate cancer and the greater disease mortality in African Americans, there is an urgent need to develop and optimize genetic screening for African Americans.
With the support from the PCF and Smith, Haiman’s study will involve four times more men than initially anticipated, along with a much greater representation of African American men.
“Reducing prostate cancer disparities is at the heart of PCF’s mission to end prostate cancer once and for all. This test will democratize access to genetic testing and machine learning algorithms for prostate cancer risk,” said Jonathan W. Simons, the CEO of PCF.
“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.