Precision Medicine Offers Hospital Administrators a Way to Address Racial Disparities in Cancer Treatments

Mount Sinai review offers unique insights into applying precision medicine to treat prostate cancer in African American men

Racial disparities in healthcare are becoming an increasingly recognized problem, and there are several barriers that affect how minorities are able to access healthcare. One of these barriers is that treatments are often based on studies performed on populations where minorities may be underrepresented or where the genetic differences between different ethnicities are not fully considered.

The wider use of precision medicine in healthcare offers a unique tool to help reduce racial disparities. Precision medicine has the potential to address the differences in how various ethnicities have different disease risk profiles and how they respond differently to treatments. While there are still many other factors that can disproportionately affect a minority's access to healthcare, precision medicine does offer a potential resource that hospital administrators should consider.

Mount Sinai Work in Prostate Cancer Precision Medicine

Ashutosh K. Tewari, MD (above), of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is senior author of a recent review in Cancer Reports. The focus of Tewari's research examines the molecular and genomic reasons for prostate cancer in African American men and suggests guidelines for managing the disease. (Photo source: Mount Sinai)

A recently published comprehensive review in Cancer Reports, by Mount Sinai researchers, discusses the implications of using precision medicine to treat prostate cancer in different populations. African American males have prostate cancer at higher rates than their Caucasian counterparts and have higher mortality rates from prostate cancer.

"We provide a comprehensive review of the significant research in recent years that has examined the molecular and genomic reasons for unequal cancer burden in African American and Caucasian American populations and acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead," stated the senior author of the review, Ashutosh K. Tewari, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, for a post published at HealthIT Analytics.

Potential Precision Medicine Initiatives for African American Men

"This article provides specific guidelines for managing prostate cancer in African American men based on their disease's biology and makes a significant contribution to the ongoing national effort to improve African American men's outcomes from prostate cancer," stated Tewari.

The review's authors noted that socioeconomic factors and problems with care access also require attention. The review did show, however, that the molecular and genomic differences in prostate cancer for African American males compared to Caucasian males offered the potential for more targeted treatments. These treatments include immunotherapies that are specifically designed to treat African American populations.

Researchers expressed hope that this review could lead to further data that could improve the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer in African American men. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the incidence and mortality rates of prostate cancer in general by focusing on reducing the disparate outcomes that result from a homogenous approach.

"Understanding the specific biology of prostate cancer in African American men and integrating clinical and genomic data will enable a precision medicine approach to treating African American men and contribute to the ongoing efforts to improve outcomes in this population," said the review's co-author Sujit S. Nair, PhD, an assistant professor at Mount Sinai.

While this study only addresses one disease in one underserved population group, it highlights the potential that precision medicine can offer hospitals grappling with racial disparities in healthcare. As the different health outcomes for minorities compared to other populations gain increasing awareness in societal and political movements, having the more targeted treatment options that precision medicine offers will be an invaluable offering for hospitals and health systems.

Race-related issues are very important in modern culture and increasingly so in healthcare. By recognizing the distinct advantages that precision medicine offers minority and underserved populations by targeted, patient-specific treatment, hospital administrators have the opportunity to reduce racial inequalities while promoting the health of everyone their hospital serves.

- Caleb Williams

Related Information:

Ashutosh Tewari, MD

Genomic Data Advances Precision Medicine for Prostate Cancer

Racial disparity in prostate cancer in the African American population with actionable ideas and novel immunotherapies

Population Health Management Strategies to Reduce Health Disparities