ASCO: Large precision oncology study identifies differences in prostate cancer genomics among a racially and ethnically diverse cohort of U.S. veterans

June 3, 2024
Genomic study of veterans with advanced prostate cancer reveals differences in frequencies of alterations and describes the impacts of these alterations on survival.

A new study led by a UCLA-VA collaborative team looking at the landscape of genomic alterations in more than 5,000 veterans with metastatic prostate cancer uncovered differences in the genomic makeup of cancer cells that were associated with race and ethnicity.  

Although the team found that a similar set of cancer-related genes were altered in both non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic white veterans, the frequencies that these alterations were observed at varied significantly between the two groups. After adjusting for a number of individual patient-level factors, including the type of cancer tissue tested, clinical variables, and social determinants of health indices, the authors discovered that Black veterans exhibited higher rates of genomic alterations in immunotherapy targets — a finding that could translate into opportunities to offer precision-based therapy for these men. 

When looking at how these alterations impact survival, consistent with previous reports, alterations in tumor suppressor genes like TP53 were associated with shorter survival in both Black and white veterans.  

The researchers leveraged the large next-generation sequencing dataset from the Veterans Affairs National Precision Oncology Program to analyze affected genes and alteration frequencies identified in prostate tumors from 5015 veterans with metastatic prostate cancer who self-identified their race/ethnicity as non-Hispanic Black (1784) and non-Hispanic white (3231). The investigators used the data to evaluate the spectrum and frequency of genetic mutations associated with race/ethnicity and whether or not these mutations were linked to how long the patients lived after their cancer diagnosis.