Pros, cons of drug proven to prevent prostate cancer should be considered, researchers recommend

January 21, 2008

Findings by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers encourage men to weigh both the potential benefits and side effects of the drug finasteride before taking it to prevent prostate cancer.

In today’s online issue of Cancer, UT Southwestern doctors analyzed data gathered by the National Cancer Institute’s Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, or PCPT. The trial, which began in October 1993, was designed to test whether finasteride could prevent prostate cancer in men 55 years of age and older. It was stopped early in June 2003 when an analysis showed that finasteride reduced the risk of developing prostate cancer by 25 percent.

UT Southwestern’s analysis of the PCPT data indicates that cost effectiveness and quality of life issues associated with taking the drug are not clear cut, said Dr. Yair Lotan, assistant professor of urology and the Cancer study’s senior author. The PCPT data show that in addition to preventing prostate cancer, finasteride also reduces urinary-tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. It also decreased sexual desire and caused impotence in 5 percent of the trial participants. Some PCPT participants who did develop prostate cancer also had high-grade tumors, although there is ongoing debate whether this result might have been due to sampling bias.

“Finasteride is currently the only drug that has been shown to prevent prostate cancer in a large randomized trial but is used for this purpose in very few men,” Dr. Lotan said. “A large number of patients are currently taking over-the-counter supplements to prevent prostate cancer, even though there is no scientific evidence to support these products’ claims. It’s important for patients to be aware of this scientific trial and to ask their doctors if finasteride could benefit them.”

In light of all these pros and cons, Dr. Lotan said physicians and patients need to work together closely to weigh how finasteride could affect quality of life on a case-by-case basis.

“With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men,” Dr. Lotan said. “Men who are at low risk for prostate cancer might view taking finasteride as not very cost effective when considering its impact on their quality of life. On the other hand, patients at high risk might see it as cost effective because it lessens their chances of developing prostate cancer.

“Because there is some complexity to the PCPT I think doctors hesitate to discuss its results. While I’m not advocating for the drug, I think physicians should mention finasteride, especially when their patients are asking questions about ways to prevent prostate cancer. Patients should understand and be aware of the proven science that’s out there.”

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center

Explore further: Finasteride saves men from prostate cancer, doesn't increase risk of death

Related Stories

Finasteride saves men from prostate cancer, doesn't increase risk of death

August 14, 2013
A long-term follow-up to a groundbreaking study led by the director of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center confirms that a drug shown to reduce risk of prostate cancer by more than a third has no impact on lifespan but further ...

Eating smart: Researcher studies foods, dietary supplements that may reduce risk of prostate cancer

January 23, 2012
A Kansas State University professor is turning to nutrition to tackle prostate cancer.

Long-term finasteride doesn't impair quality of life

September 13, 2012
(HealthDay)—Taking finasteride to prevent prostate cancer does not negatively affect the physical function, mental health, or vitality domains of health-related quality of life, according to a study published online Sept. ...

Proscar won't boost prostate cancer survival, study finds

February 15, 2013
(HealthDay)—Men with prostate cancer taking the drug finasteride (Proscar) don't survive longer than similar men not taking the drug, a new study finds.

Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

April 18, 2014
Men who show signs of chronic inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue may have nearly twice the risk of actually having prostate cancer than those with no inflammation, according to results of a new study led by researchers ...

Doctors can now detect hard-to-diagnose prostate cancer

August 9, 2012
Researchers have successfully developed and tested a new prostate cancer screening method that uses the combined power of a novel drug therapy and changes in PSA levels over time to identify men with a high PSA who are more ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover novel mechanism linking changes in mitochondria to cancer cell death

February 20, 2018
To stop the spread of cancer, cancer cells must die. Unfortunately, many types of cancer cells seem to use innate mechanisms that block cancer cell death, therefore allowing the cancer to metastasize. While seeking to further ...

Stem cell vaccine immunizes lab mice against multiple cancers

February 15, 2018
Stanford University researchers report that injecting mice with inactivated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) launched a strong immune response against breast, lung, and skin cancers. The vaccine also prevented relapses ...

Induced pluripotent stem cells could serve as cancer vaccine, researchers say

February 15, 2018
Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, are a keystone of regenerative medicine. Outside the body, they can be coaxed to become many different types of cells and tissues that can help repair damage due to trauma or ...

Team paves the way to the use of immunotherapy to treat aggressive colon tumors

February 15, 2018
In a short space of time, immunotherapy against cancer cells has become a powerful approach to treat cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer. However, to date, most colon tumours appeared to be unresponsive to this kind ...

Can our genes help predict how women respond to ovarian cancer treatment?

February 15, 2018
Research has identified gene variants that play a significant role in how women with ovarian cancer process chemotherapy.

First comparison of common breast cancer tests finds varied accuracy of predictions

February 15, 2018
Commercially-available prognostic breast cancer tests show significant variation in their abilities to predict disease recurrence, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London of nearly 800 postmenopausal women.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.