Men of African Ancestry Less Likely to Receive Genomic Profiling Early During Prostate Cancer Treatment

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The data, according to one of the study’s authors, are critical in understanding the disparities in prostate cancer.

Men of African ancestry appear less likely to receive comprehensive genomic profiling earlier during their prostate cancer treatment, compared to men of European ancestry.

Moreover, the data, which were presented at the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting, indicated that men of African descent were also less likely to be enrolled on clinical trials compared to their European counterparts.

To examine several factors that may contribute to disparities in prostate cancer care, researchers conducted a large-scale analysis of more than 11,000 patients with prostate cancer. Of note, the authors highlighted, this study comprised the largest cohort of men of African ancestry. The assessed areas included gene alterations, comprehensive genomic profiling utilization and treatment patterns.

In an interview with CURE®, Smruthy Sivakumar, a scientist on the cancer genomics research team at Foundation Medicine in Cambridge, Massachusetts, discussed the results of the analysis.

“This large population provided us with a unique opportunity to look into several factors that may contribute to disparities in cancer care,” Sivakumar said.


So, for this study, we used a relatively large research data set comprising over 11,000 prostate cancer patients who underwent comprehensive genomic profiling at Foundation Medicine as part of routine clinical care, with over 12% of the patients predicted to have an African ancestry. This large population provided us with a unique opportunity to look into several factors that may contribute to disparities in cancer care, particularly in terms of patterns of the gene alterations, the comprehensive genomic profiling utilization, as well as treatment patterns in a large and diverse advanced prostate cancer cohort. So we identified that men of African ancestry had a lower median age compared to men of European ancestry. And they also showed imbalances in certain genomic alterations. But in contrast, genes, such as those in the DNA damage response pathway, as well as actionable genes with therapy implications, were identified at a similar frequency between these ancestry groups. To dig into this further, we looked at a subset of close to 900 patients who had real-world clinical data extracted as part of the clinical genomic database in collaboration with Flatiron Health. And here we saw that patients of an African ancestry were less likely to receive Foundation Medicine testing earlier in their treatment course and were less likely to be enrolled in clinical trials. And these findings were critical in understanding disparities in prostate cancer.

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