CHA Receives NIH Grant to Study Prostate Cancer Disparities

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12/11/2018

CHA has been selected as a clinical site for a five-year research collaboration to investigate cancer health disparities in the African American community. The initiative is sponsored through a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study will focus specifically on a precision interception approach to prevent prostate cancer growth among African American men.

Heidi Rayala, MD, Chair of the CHA Cancer Committee and Rebecca Osgood, MD, Chief of Pathology, are spearheading the initiative at CHA, in collaboration with Timothy R. Rebbeck at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Other participating sites include Center for Prostate Disease Research, Moffitt Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University, University of California, San Francisco and Boston University/Boston Medical Center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13 out of every 100 men will get prostate cancer during their lifetime. African American men die from prostate cancer at a higher rate, more than double than any other ethnicity or race. The disparity is associated with unequal access to screening and treatment, and biological differences in tumors that may impact treatment. The ability to predict and monitor prostate cancer progression and provide better treatment for African American men is key to reducing disparities.

The grant will allow the research team to develop and implement tools that can “intercept” the development of castrate-resistant or metastatic prostate cancer and death from prostate cancer in African American men. The team will develop innovative treatments and define new approaches for therapeutic intervention focused on African American men, as well as identify subtypes and biomarkers of disease progression and response.

"Of particular interest to CHA is gaining a better understanding of which ethnicities are more prone to aggressive prostate cancer," commented Dr. Rayala. "Prior work within the CHA Cancer Committee has identified that certain populations which have historically thought to be at higher risk due to the fact that they are black may not actually have a higher incidence of prostate cancer (for example the Brazilian Portuguese population). We are hoping that collecting ethnicity data (in addition to race) will better identify the unique ethnic populations that are at higher risk for prostate cancer."

"Pathologists nationwide are advancing cancer therapy by research in the field of precision medicine. The CHA Department of Pathology is excited to participate in this precision medicine research study and hopefully, this research will benefit our CHA prostate cancer patients in the future," commented Dr. Osgood.