Study highlights poor clinical utility of germline testing in cancer patients of African ancestry

New research in the March 2023 issue of JNCCN-; Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network highlights how the lack of genomic research for people with African ancestry, particularly those from the Sub-Saharan region, is hampering efforts to reduce disparities for people with cancer. In a first-of-its-kind study, the researchers evaluated molecular genetic results for 113 Black South African men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer to find evidence for increased and potentially unique genetic testing recommendations.

The researchers point out that, according to the GLOBOCON 2020 studies, the regions of the world most impacted by prostate cancer mortality include populations with significant African ancestry, such as the Caribbean and the regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, with mortality rates 3.4- and 2.5-fold greater, than reported for the United States, respectively. Within the United States, African American men are at 2.3- to 5-times increased risk for prostate cancer associated death than their non-African American counterparts.

Dr. Washington, who is also a Member of the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) Panel for Prostate Cancer Early Detection, continued: "This study emphasizes two crucial domains: 1) it provides further evidence of the need for greater inclusivity in genetic panel development and 2) it recognizes that disparities in outcomes for men of African ancestry can't be explained solely by the findings in 113 Black South African males. Although the NCCN Guidelines for Prostate Cancer Early Detection identify Black/African American identity as a risk factor, the panel notes the contributions of poor access to care, social determinants of health/social risk, and heritable genes to these observations. I look forward to further research in this area that examines how the limitations of our current tools can be improved to better reflect the populations we serve."