Health + Wellness

This Clinical Trial Could Change How Prostate Cancer Is Detected in Black Men –

This Clinical Trial Could Change How Prostate Cancer Is Detected in Black Men

Preliminary clinical research findings by the University of Alberta indicate that PET/CT imaging could replace the standard MRI in the detection and prediction of the spread of prostate cancer.  

The research, led by Dr. Adam Kinnaird, found PET/CT scan imaging to be more effective in determining the existence of metastasized prostate cancer cells than MRI imaging. 

Kinnaird—an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the university—explained that, typically, when prostate cancer is detected, patients undergo surgery to remove the prostate, but if cancer has spread outside the prostate, surgeons will treat it beyond the initial area to ensure no cancer cells remain. 

“This imaging test gives us a better degree of accuracy in terms of where exactly we need to treat,” Kinnaird explained in a press release.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, in the United States. However, Black men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their white counterparts and they are twice as likely to die from the disease. 

Early Detection Prostate Cancer Screenings and Clinical Trials Mean Better Outcomes for Black Men

Because they tend to be diagnosed once prostate cancer has reached an advanced stage, early detection screenings and priority enrollment of diverse populations in clinical trials could significantly improve health outcomes for Black men.  

MRI imaging has been the standard for testing since the early eighties, however, this Canadian clinical trial utilizing a tracing agent administered during the PET/CT scan accurately predicted the spread of the tumors. 

The success of this clinical trial has caused a positive domino effect; Kinnaird’s team will perform another set of trials to determine whether or not the tracing agent imaging can be used in conjunction with minimally invasive ablation treatment.

In Canada, where universal healthcare is the standard, early screening for prostate cancer, especially for Black men, is non-existent. U.S. guidelines however recommend men undergo prostate screening beginning at the age of 55 however, screenings should begin at age 45 if the patient;

  • Is a Black male
  • has an immediate relative with prostate cancer; for example a brother or father
  • has two extended family members with prostate cancer

Socioeconomic factors, limited access to healthcare, systemic racism, and poverty disproportionately affect health outcomes in the Black community in the U.S. and it is these barriers that can have a detrimental effect on health outcomes. 

Prostate cancer in its earliest stages shows no signs or symptoms. As the disease progresses, however, individuals may experience difficulty urinating, notice blood in their urine or semen, or experience bone pain, weight loss, or erectile dysfunction. Early detection is critical and screenings are imperative to manage and treat prostate cancer before it progresses. 

Another of Kinnaird’s research trials followed over 6,500 men diagnosed with prostate cancer for nine years. Just under 180 of the enrollees were Black, and the study found that their results were comparable to those of their non-Black counterparts. As a result, Kinnaird recommended that Black Canadian men undergo screening beginning at age 45 instead of 50.

“The crux of it is that if you can detect it at an early, localized, treatable stage, we have a cure rate of 95% or greater. But if you wait until the cancer metastasizes, then we currently do not have any cures available,” Kinnaird said. “When detected late, it is now a lethal disease.” 

Due to the significant health disparities in the Black community in the U.S., prioritizing early detection of diseases like prostate cancer and ensuring inclusive and diverse enrollment in clinical trials is imperative to the overall health and well-being of the community.

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