Seattle researchers need your help in searching for the genes linked to inherited prostate cancer

February 27, 2000

SEATTLE - Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington are conducting a search, involving hundreds of families nationwide, to find the genes responsible for inherited prostate cancer (prostate cancer that runs in families).

However, of the nearly 300 families that have participated so far in this genetic family study, only a handful have been African American.

"One limitation of our ongoing research is that few minority families have enrolled," says Dr. Janet Stanford, an epidemiologist at the Hutchinson Center and at UW who oversees recruitment of families involved in the Prostate Cancer Genetic Research Study, or PROGRESS.

Of 292 families participating in the PROGRESS study, only six are non-Caucasian, she says, so the recruitment emphasis during the next year will involve bolstering participation of minority families, particularly African Americans.

"Because African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality from prostate cancer of any group in the world, we think it's important for them to be represented in the study," Stanford says.

Prostate cancer kills about 40,000 American men every year. African Americans have a 60 percent higher risk of developing prostate cancer and a 100 percent higher death rate from the disease as compared with Caucasian Americans. Finding the gene or genes implicated in inherited prostate cancer may provide clues that will eventually help diagnose, treat, cure and even prevent the disease, Stanford says.

At least 100 African-American families are needed to participate in this ongoing study.The researchers, initially supported by a four-year grant from CaP CURE, the Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate, have obtained additional funding from the National Cancer Institute to continue this work.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

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