Providing a voice for Prostate Cancer in Africa

iDZOMO is a consortium of Clinical and Scientific Researchers dedicated to finding answers to the devastating impact of prostate cancer in African men.

In the Tshivenda language of the Vhavenda people of Southern Africa, DZOMO means ‘to provide a voice for those who have none’. 

Welcome to the initiative of DZOMO - thank you for visiting our site.


Introduction to iDZOMO

A collaborative prostate cancer research initiative for Africa


iDZOMO is a new, and the only, African driven network of clinicians and basic scientists, supported by an international scientific partner, who have come together to provide an African voice and African solution to the significant burden of prostate cancer within the continent.

Born from the success of the Southern African Prostate Cancer Study (SAPCS), iDZOMO is globally unique, as it allows for a single study design to be replicated across multiple partner sites. In turn, studies may be replicated and findings validated between countries, increasing the power of the research findings, which largely do not align with those performed outside of Africa.


Prostate cancer the silent killer in Africa

PROSTATE CANCER is a lethal disease in Africa. Estimating the true mortality rates within Africa has been limited. Studies outside of Africa are conclusive, African ancestry is a significant risk factor for prostate cancer associated mortality.

The Southern African Prostate Cancer Study (SAPCS) has led the way, showing that compared with African Americans, age-matched Black South African men are at a two-fold higher risk of presenting with lethal disease [2]. This is further exaggerated when considering men of non-African ancestry. 

  1. Siegel R, Ma J, Zou Z, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2014. CA Cancer J Clin 2014, 64:9-29.

  2. Tindall EA, Monare LR, van Zyl S, Petersen DC, Hardie R-A, Segone AM, Venter PA, Bornman MSR, Hayes VM. Clinical presentation of prostate cancer in Black South Africans. Prostate, 2014, 74:880-91.


iDZOMO Partners

Southern African Prostate Cancer Study (SAPCS) led out of University of Pretoria, South Africa

East African Prostate Cancer Study (EAPCS) led out of the University of Nairobi, Kenya

Namibian Southern African Prostate Cancer Study (NamSAPCS) led out of Windhoek Hospital, Namibia

All new African partners are welcome to join the iDZOMO team


Southern African Prostate Cancer Study (SAPCS)

SAPCS was initiated in 2008 as a result of seed funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) of South Africa. Through further support from the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the SAPCS has recruited over 3,000 South African men to date and includes extensive clinical and demographic data, as well as biological specimens for research purposes. iDZOMO was founded on the success of the SAPCS.


SAPCS Research Discoveries

SAPCS shows that men living in rural areas of South Africa are at a 1.6-fold greater risk of presenting with lethal prostate cancer than men from urban areas.

SAPCS shows the risk for lethal prostate cancer is significantly increased within the Vhembe district of Limpopo.

SAPCS shows that PSA screening will greatly alleviate the burden of prostate cancer in South Africa.

SAPCS identifies a 1.8-fold increased prostate cancer risk associated diabetes in South African men.

SAPCS team identifies a link between aggressive prostate cancer presentation in South African men and the DNA inherited from their mothers.

SAPCS team identifies a link between aggressive prostate cancer presentation and KhoeSan ancestry in South African Coloured men.

SAPCS leaders are the first to include Africans in the genomic revolution.

SAPCS team are the first to observe a unique genomic signature driving lethal prostate cancer in African men.

SAPCS team generates the first complete prostate cancer genome map.


SAPCS Associated Publications

  1. Schuster SC, et al, Hayes VM. Complete Khoisan and Bantu Genomes from Southern Africa. Nature. 2010, 463(7283):943-7.

  2. Tindall EA, Bornman MSR, van Zyl S, Petersen DC, Segone AM, Monare LR, Venter PA, Hayes VM. Epidemiological and genetic factors contributing to increased prostate cancer risk and aggressive disease in southern Africa. BMC Urology 2013, 13:74.

  3. Tindall EA, Monare LR, van Zyl S, Petersen DC, Hardie R-A, Segone AM, Venter PA, Bornman MSR, Hayes VM. Clinical presentation of prostate cancer in Black South Africans. The Prostate, 2014, 74(8):880-91.

  4. McCrow JP, Petersen DC, Louw M, Chan EKF, Hermeyer K, Vecchiarelli S, Lyons RJ, Bornman MSR, Hayes VM. Spectrum of mitochondrial genomic variation and associated clinical presentation of prostate cancer in South African men. The Prostate. 2016, 76(4):349-58.

  5. Jaratlerdsiri W, Chan EKF, Petersen DC, Yang C, Croucher PI, Bornman MSR, Sheth P, Hayes VM. Next generation mapping reveals novel large genomic rearrangements in prostate cancer. Oncotarget 2017, 8(14):23588-23602.

  6. Hayes VM, Bornman MSR. Prostate cancer in Southern Africa: Does Africa hold untapped potential to add value to current understanding of a common disease? Journal of Global Oncology, 2018 Sep;4:1-7. 

  7. Jaratlerdsiri W, Chan EKF, Gong T, Petersen DC, Kalsbeek AMF, Venter PA, Stricker PD, Bornman MSR, Hayes VM. Whole-Genome Sequencing Reveals Elevated Tumor Mutational Burden and Initiating Driver Mutations in African Men with Treatment-Naïve, High-Risk Prostate Cancer. Cancer Research 2018, 78(24):6736-6746.

  8. Hayes VM, Jaratlerdsiri W, Bornman MSR. Prostate cancer genomics and racial health disparity. Oncotarget. 2018, 9(94):36650-36651.

  9. Blackburn J, Vecchiarelli S, Heyer EE, Patrick SM, Lyons RJ, Jaratlerdsiri W, van Zyl S, Bornman MSR, Mercer TR, Hayes VM. TMPRSS2-ERG fusions linked to prostate cancer racial health disparities: a focus on Africa. Prostate. 2019, 79(10):1191-1196.

  10. Petersen DC, Jaratlerdsiri W, van Wyk A, Chan EKF, Fernandez P, Lyons RJ, Mutambirw SBA, van der Merwe A, Venter PA, Bates W, Bornman MSR, Hayes VM. African KhoeSan ancestry linked to high-risk prostate cancer. BMC Med Genomics. 2019, 12(1):82.


iDZOMO Launch

iDZOMO was launched on 18-20 April 2018 at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Participating members came from South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda and with International partner representation from Australia.

Financial support was provided by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa, the University of Pretoria and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia.

From left to right (photo): Dr Micah Ongeri Oyaro, Dr Sean Patrick, Professor Riana Bornman, Professor Shingai Mutambirwa, Professor Vanessa Hayes, Professor Mungai (Peter) Ngugi, Dr Africa Gasana and Dr Raymond Campbell. Absent: Dr Johan Becker and Professor Emile Rwamasirabo.


Research Objectives iDZOMO

To determine the true disease burden of prostate cancer within African countries, with the inclusion of the most rural communities.

To provide recommendations for clinical management of prostate cancer of relevance for African men, driving local policy and education.

To identify modifiable environmental and/or lifestyle risk factors for prostate cancer and specifically lethal disease of relevance to African men.

To identify biomarkers (including genetic, as well as gene-environment interactions) for prostate cancer risk and adverse outcomes of relevance for African men.

To translate the findings observed within Africa to non-African data and resources, as such building a critical understanding of the etiology of lethal prostate cancer of relevance globally.

To identify the molecular mechanisms driving prostate tumor initiation and advanced progression within African men and in turn provide an African strategy for diagnosing, treating (therapeutic targets) and ultimately preventing lethal disease.


Strategic Objectives iDZOMO

To provide much needed synergy across prostate cancer studies within Africa.
To provide a unique resource for prostate cancer studies of relevance for Africa and led by Africans.
To provide access to expertise in areas such as urology, oncology, pathology, epidemiology, cancer genomics, statistics and bioinformatics via partnership collaborations.
To provide means for higher education and information transfer via staff and student exchanges between partnership institutions.
To provide access to state-of-the-art technologies via collaborative access to partnership infrastructure and resources. 
To maintain international standards for research outputs achieving recognition as global leaders in African prostate cancer research.
To provide a collaborative resource to target much needed funding to meet the research objectives.
To provide a direct path to community awareness and education based on research outcomes, via mechanisms such as media, direct community engagement, pamphlets and educating local medical services.


iDZOMO Directors

Clinical Director - Professor Riana Bornman

Urological Director - Professor Mungai (Peter) Ngugi 

Scientific Director - Professor Vanessa Hayes

Professor Bornman is an androligist specialising in the ageing male and community health. She was a founding member of the SAPCS and took over the responsibility as Clinical Director after the retirement of Prof Philip Venter. She is responsible for building partnerships with other South African universities and to grow the diversity of participants both in South Africa and Namibia, with a particular focus on running the field-based facility out of the Vhembe District of South Africa. She is a Senior Research Professor in the School of Health Systems and Public Health at the University of Pretoria and co-founded iDZOMO.

Professor Ngugi is a surgeon and urologist at the University of Nairobi's Academic Kenyatta National Hospital as well as Director of East Africa kidney institute (EAKI) in Nairobi, Kenya. The EAKI is a center of excellence under the auspices of the east African community to provide training research and service in urology and nephrology to east African community member countries. He is also the Clinical Director of the EAPCS.

Professor Hayes is Head of the Laboratory for Human Comparative and Prostate Cancer Genomics at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research at the University of Sydney in Australia and an Extraordinary Professor of Public Health at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She co-founded the SAPCS, NamSAPCS and iDZOMO and is Scientific Director for these initiatives. South African born and educated, Professor Hayes has spent much of her research career focused on southern African genomics. She is best known for having sequenced the first complete African genomes, namely that of the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and a KhoeSan gentleman from Kalahari region in Namibia. 

See weblink below.


iDZOMO Welcome and Thank You

The founders of iDZOMO welcome all African nations to join this initiative. Funding for clinical and basic research efforts focused on prostate cancer within and for Africa is dismal - by coming together as an united force we can change this picture. We believe the benefits gained from iDZOMO will be instrumental beyond the African continent and will be of global relevance. Prostate cancer is clinically a heterogenous disease. Although mortality rates are lower outside of Africa, understanding the disease course and biological drivers of lethal disease remains unknown. By including Africa and African men in global studies, researchers and clinicians will be provided with critical knowledge on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of prostrate cancer mortality. Africa provides a unique opportunity to gain significant knowledge.

There are many ways we can say thank you



Je vous remercie

Na khensa


Re a leboga

Ro livhuwa!

Photo credits for this site:

Vanessa Hayes

Riana Bornman



iDZOMO Scientific Director

Professor Vanessa Hayes

iDZOMO Clinical Director

Professor Riana Bornman

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