Does Immunotherapy Yield Better Results for Black Prostate Cancer Patients?

By Lou Portero - Last Updated: June 2, 2021

A study published in the journal Nature Communications revealed that higher levels of a specific immune cell type make immunotherapy more effective in Black patients than in White patients.  This data may be a stepping-stone to precision medicine immunotherapy for patients of all races with aggressive and/or advanced prostate cancer of a localized nature.

There are about 175,000 new cases of Prostate cancer with 32,000 deaths every year. The risk of death is about two times higher in Black men than in White men.

Previous research suggested that Black patients with advanced prostate cancer benefited from immunotherapy. However, isolating and identifying which patients of any race would respond best to immunotherapy treatment was difficult.

The authors’ analysis of 1300 prostate tumor samples revealed that Black patients carried higher levels of immune plasma cells than White patients and that these plasma cells were positively associated with better survival rates after surgery for all races of patients. “Our study suggests plasma cells are important in the body’s response to cancer,” said Dr. Edward Schaeffer, chair of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.

“The finding comes at a time as researchers are discovering plasma cells may play a greater role in cancer immunotherapy than previously thought,” said lead study author Dr. Adam Weiner, a Northwestern Medicine urology resident. “Testing for plasma cells in prostate cancer may help identify men who will benefit from immune-based treatments.”

Clinical trials are now in development to learn if patients of all races can achieve improved survival and immunotherapy efficacy with a higher level of the plasma cells.

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