Research Projects

Prostate cancer in black SA men – Dr Chantal Babb

Prostate cancer in black SA men – Dr Chantal Babb

Dr Chantal Babb

Dr Chantel Babb

Dr Chantel Babb

Dept MRC/NHLS Cancer Epidemiology Research Group, National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) and National Cancer Registry and Research.


Project title

Prostate cancer in black South African men, extending replication of genome wide association study findings.

Project description

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in South African (SA) men. Worldwide there are big differences in the frequency of prostate cancer between men from different ethnic groups. Globally the incidence of prostate cancer is increasing with longer lifespan, westernized lifestyle and fewer deaths due to communicable disease worsening cancer risk. International and interethnic variations in prostate cancer incidence suggest that lifestyle and genetic factors play a role in its development. Older age, African ancestry and a family history of prostate cancer have long been recognized as important risk factors. Numerous genome wide association studies (GWAS) have identified genetic variations that are associated with increased or decreased risk of developing prostate cancer in white men, while to a lesser extent these associations have been reported in black men living in Europe and North America. Few of these findings have been studied in black men residing in Africa.  Thus, the aim of the present study was to investigate these previous findings in South African black men. In addition good quality environmental and lifestyle data available (eg smoking and alcohol use) was collected and will allow an analysis of the possible interactions between environmental and genetic factors. Genes that are strongly suspected to be connected to risk of prostate cancer, over various populations will be looked at in black South African men and non-prostate cancer controls to see if the same is seen here. Subsequently, the aim is to collaborate in a consortium of African studies, increasing the power of the study.


The results generated by the consortium will provide valuable insight into the disparity of prostate cancer incidence seen between populations of African versus non-African ancestry. As African-American men are believed to have more aggressive disease it is important to understand if we see the same in South Africa and if there are strategies that need to be put in place to better control and manage the disease. A better understanding of the possible course of prostate cancer across all populations can potentially improve the care of all prostate cancer patients everywhere; and could have implications for selective screening, prevention and treatment options. The results from the study are currently being statistically analysed.

Erratum to “Prostate Cancer in South Africa: Pathology Based National Cancer Registry Data (1986–2006) and Mortality Rates (1997–2009)”


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