Black men have a number of factors (genetics, racial bias, etc.) that make them more susceptible to developing prostate cancer. A new study found that Black men also have an increased number of plasma cells. However, the news of higher plasma cells is good news that can give Black men a better survival rate of advanced prostate cancer.
The findings suggest that plasma cells could play an important role in prostate cancer immune-responsiveness, according to the authors of the study.
The researchers also found that higher levels of plasma cells were associated with improved cancer survival following surgery, regardless of the patient’s race.
For the study, the researchers analyzed 1,300 prostate tumor samples and found that, on average, those from Black men had higher levels of plasma cells (a type of immune cell) than those from white men.
Researchers say that higher levels of a certain type of immune cell may explain why immunotherapy for prostate cancer is more effective in Black men than in white men. This finding could lead to immunotherapy-based precision treatment for localized aggressive and advanced prostate cancer in all races.
“If a man’s prostate cancer has numerous plasma cells, we found he had improved cancer survival,” Dr. Edward Schaeffer, chair of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago says. “Our study suggests plasma cells are important in the body’s response to cancer.”
Recent research suggests that Black men with advanced prostate cancer have improved survival rates with immunotherapy, but there hasn’t been a way to predict which individual patients — Black or white — may have the best response to immunotherapy drugs.
“The finding comes at a time as researchers are discovering plasma cells may play a greater role in cancer immunotherapy than previously thought,” Dr. Adam Weiner, a Northwestern Medicine urology resident says.