Inaugural SAPCS Members (L to R): Dr (Lekhotla) Richard Monare, Prof MS Riana Bornman, Prof Vanessa M Hayes, Prof Philip A Venter, Dr Smit van Zyl

The Problem

Prostate cancer is the most common male-associated cancer and the second most common cause of male-associated cancer deaths in the western world. Limitations in the clinical management of prostate cancer include: lack of early presenting symptoms, extreme diversity in disease outcomes (from those whose cancer will never progress to those whose cancer metastasizes rapidly, resulting in death), lack of significant lifestyle associated modifiable risk factors, controversy associated with prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, lack of easily detected biochemical markers of prostate cancer risk and disease course and diversity in impact of current treatment options.


The African Link

In the United States Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer (and at a younger age) and 2.5 times more likely to die from prostate cancer compared with Whites. As a result of these findings, an African ancestry is one of only three highly significant and validated risk factors for prostate cancer (together with increased age and a family history of prostate cancer).

Statistics for Africa, however, are scarce or likely significantly under reported. The team wishes to define the contributing factors (environmental and/or genetic) that link prostate cancer to African ancestry. To achieve this goal the team has teamed with researchers within Africa. 

SAPCS Graphic 


The Southern African Prostate Cancer Study (SAPCS) is a first-of-its-kind African prostate cancer study initiated in 2008 with seed funding from the Medical Research Council of South Africa, the University of Limpopo and later the University of Pretoria, all in South Africa, together with collaborators Prof Philip Venter (University of Limpopo) and Prof Riana Bornman (University of Pretoria, YouTube link).

The SAPCS provides a unique epidemiological, genetic and prostate tissue resource dominated by an early-onset aggressive disease phenotype. The team is utilizing this resource as an alternative to Australian-based studies, which unlike western countries, has not been impacted by almost 20 years of PSA testing.



  • Inaugural Workshop of the SAPCS, Pretoria, South Africa, October 2015
  • 2nd Workshop of the SAPCS, Sydney, Australia, October 2016

For further workshop information please contact the organizing committee


Key SAPCS Members

Prof Pascal Bessong, University of Venda
Prof Riana Bornman (inaugural member), University of Pretoria
Dr Eva K. F. Chan, Garvan Institute
Prof Don Cowan, University of Pretoria
Prof Vanessa M. Hayes (inaugural member), Garvan Institute / University of Sydney
Prof Melanie Louw, University of Pretoria 
Dr L. Richard Monare (inaugural member), University of Limpopo
Dr Desiree C. Petersen, Garvan Institute
Dr Smit van Zyl (inaugural member), University of Limpopo
Prof Philip A. Venter (inaugural member), University of Limpopo
Past member: Dr Elizabeth A. Tindall, Garvan Institute and J. Craig Venter Institute


In Memoriam

The SAPCS members would like to remember Prof Chris F. Heyns (1949-2014) past president of the South African Urological Association, past-president of the College of Urologists of South Africa and Head of the Department of Urology at Stellenbosch University. Prof Heyns was an inspiration to the community and made an enormous contribution to understanding the impact of prostate cancer within South Africa (and globally). Prof Heyns was an inspiration to many of the SAPCS members and he will be missed dearly.



Medical Research Council (MRC) of South Africa (Seed)
Unistel Laboratories, South Africa (Seed)
University of Limpopo, South Africa (Infrastructure)
University of Pretoria, South Africa (Infrastructure)
Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia (Infrastructure)
Petre Foundation, Australia (Infrastructure)
National Institute of Health / National Cancer Institute (NCI), USA (Grant)
Cancer Research Initiative of South Africa (CARISA), joint initiative between Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and MRC, (Grant) 
National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa (Grant)

Inaugural Publications

Elizabeth A Tindall, L Richard Monare, Desiree C Petersen, Smit van Zyl, Rae-Anne Hardie, Alpheus M Segone, Philip A Venter and Vanessa M Hayes. Clinical presentation of prostate cancer in Black South Africans. The Prostate, 2014, 74: 880-891.

Elizabeth A Tindall, MS Riana Bornman, Smit van Zyl, Alpheus M Segone, L Richard Monare, Philip A Venter and Vanessa M Hayes. Addressing the contribution of previously described genetic and epidemiological risk factors associated with increased prostate cancer risk and aggressive disease within men from South AfricaBMC Urol. 2013; 13: 74.