Understanding black men’s risk of prostate cancer

Black men over 45 have an increased risk of prostate cancer. We want to know why.

Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. We don’t know why, but their risk might be linked to genes. Now, we’re funding research, in partnership with Movember, to find out more.

Read more about black men’s risk of prostate cancer.

We're finding out why black men are at higher risk

In partnership with Movember, we’re funding the PROFILE study to help find out why black men are at higher risk of prostate cancer than other ethnic groups.

The researchers are looking at the genes of healthy men at higher risk of prostate cancer, including men of African or Caribbean descent. Over five years, they’ll monitor the men for signs of developing prostate cancer, using blood tests and scans.

At the end of the study, the researchers hope to understand why certain men are more likely to get prostate cancer, and whether one day they could create tests to help spot these men earlier, based on their genes.

By working towards catching prostate cancer sooner in high risk men, we can increase the chances of curing their prostate cancer. And by understanding more about why and how they develop prostate cancer, we could work towards treatments that stop this from happening.

You can help

The researchers are still looking for healthy men of African or Caribbean descent to take part. Find out if you might be eligible, and what’s involved, below. 

If you’re not eligible, there are other ways to get involved.

Share with men who might be interested.

Donate to help us fund more research like this.

Taking part in the study

To find out more about signing up to the study, you can speak to your GP or call our Specialist Nurses. Or, you contact or the study team directly:

Email: prostate.research@rmh.nhs.uk

Tel: 020 8722 4483

Read the information below to find out more about what taking part in the study would involve.

  • Am I eligible to take part?  

    To participate in the study, you should be: 

    • male, aged 40 to 69 years 
    • of African or Caribbean descent, and both parents and all four grandparents should also be from the same background 
    • prostate cancer-free when entering the study (you should not have had a prostate biopsy over the past year). If you have had a prostate biopsy (which did not show cancer) before but it was longer than one year ago, you are still eligible to take part. 
    • able to travel to The Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea, London or Sutton for initial assessment and for follow-up tests. All travel expenses will be reimbursed. 
  • What does the study involve?  

    If you decide to participate you will have annual (or occasionally more frequently) blood tests for a minimum of 5 years. The blood test will measure the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood and can help indicate if there is a problem with your prostate. The blood test will be done every 12 months. You may also need to have some other tests – a digital rectal examination (DRE – this is when a doctor feels your prostate), MRI scan or prostate biopsy.  

    You may be able to have PSA tests at your GP surgery after the initial appointment if that is more convenient for you. Read more about what having these tests involves and the possible side effects. 

  • What happens if I am found to have prostate cancer?  

    A doctor from the Royal Marsden Hospital will discuss the treatment options with you. Read more about being diagnosed with prostate cancer

  • What genetic information will be collected on me?  

    Part of the blood test will be used to look at your DNA (genetic material). The researchers will look at your DNA to see if you have any of the genetic changes that are thought to increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. These results will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of the research team without your permission. 

    The researchers may also test your sample for other genetic factors that are known to increase the risk of prostate cancer. Some of these genes are known to cause other cancers and can also be passed on to or inherited from your family members so can have implications for their cancer risk as well. If any of this type of genetic change is found, with your consent both you and your GP will be informed, and you can be referred to a specialist genetics clinic to discuss the implications for you and your family. 

  • What are the benefits of taking part in the research?  

    Having regular PSA tests as part of the study could mean that if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer it may be picked up at an early stage when treatment is more likely to stop the cancer and prevent it spreading. 

    There may be no direct benefits to you as an individual. But the results of this study will help researchers to develop their knowledge and understanding about the genetic causes of prostate cancer and help to identify men who may be at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. The results of this research may lead to new detection tests and new ways of undertaking prostate cancer diagnosis. 

  • What are the possible disadvantages of taking part?  

    There are possible side effects of having a prostate biopsy.  

    You may be diagnosed with a slow-growing prostate cancer that would never have caused you any problems, but could make you worry and decide to have treatment you didn’t need. 

    Some people may experience anxiety about the results of the tests but support is available through our Specialist Nurses.  

  • What support is there if I decide to take part?  

    The study team of doctors and nurses will be your first contact point for advice and support. Their role is to support you during and after taking part in the study. They will refer you to a nurse specialist or to a psychological counsellor if required. 

  • I need more information before I can decide  

    Read more about what being part of a  clinical study (research) involves. 

    Call our Specialist Nurses if you are worried about your risk of prostate cancer or about taking part in research. 

  • I am interested in taking part or want to find out more  

    To find out more about signing up to the study, you can speak to your GP or call our Specialist Nurses. Or, you contact or the study team directly:

    Email: prostate.research@rmh.nhs.uk

    Tel: 020 8722 4483