Between 2004 and 2009, the PCaP project collected a vast range of data and specimens from 2,000 prostate cancer patients in carefully selected counties in North Carolina and parishes in Louisiana. The data included:
Information about family history, diet and lifestyle before diagnosis and treatment
Information about the men’s access to health care
Detailed information from the men’s medical records
A wide variety of blood, tissue, and other biological sample (from actual biopsy and surgical specimens to hair and nail clippings)
The goal is to be able to mine these data to better understand why some men get prostate cancer and others don’t, with a particular emphasis on the fact that African-Americans are much more likely to get prostate cancer than Caucasians, and are much more likely to die from prostate cancer if they are diagnosed. But why? At present we really don’t know.
The 2,000 men who willingly participated in this study include about 500 white males and 500 black males in Louisiana and North Carolina respectively, and the reason that specific parishes in Louisiana and counties in North Carolina were chosen as the study areas was because these parishes in Louisiana have one of the lowest rates of incidence of prostate cancer in the USA whereas the counties in North Carolina have one of the highest rates, while both have relatively high populations of African Americans.
As yet there are no clinically important data to report from this study, but the initial accumulated database is now complete and unique (although the vast majority of the patients involved have agreed to participate in responding to further questions over time as the study progresses, if these are felt to be necessary). However, what is important is that from now on the entire prostate cancer research community can take advantage of this database to conduct further research into the issues that may underlie the relative and absolute risk for prostate cancer in the study participants.