That's unfortunate, Kinsinger said, because "there does seem to be a benefit and it could be more widely used."
In the study, her team surveyed 325 urologists and 1,200 primary care doctors on their prescribing practices.
Among the doctors surveyed, 57 percent of urologists and 40 percent of primary care physicians said they prescribed finasteride more often, but only 2 percent said the PCPT trial results had influenced their decision.
Moreover, 64 percent of urologists and 80 percent of primary care physicians said they never prescribed finasteride with the aim of helping to prevent prostate cancer.
Asked why, 55 percent said they were worried about the risk of the drug causing high-grade tumors, while 52 percent said they simply had no idea that finasteride could be used to prevent prostate cancer.
The study was funded by the VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the U.S. Department of Defense - Prostate Cancer Research Program.
Although the doctors in the survey all came from the VA medical system, Kinsinger said these results most likely mirror what is happening throughout the United States.
Besides doctors being poorly informed about finasteride, patients' psychology probably plays a role as well, Kinsinger said. "As a healthy person, why should I pay to take a drug that has some chance of causing me side effects to prevent something that I may or may not get down the road?" she said. "I think that's a tough sell."
Another problem with the drug is who would benefit from taking it, Kinsinger said. Men most likely to benefit from finasteride are those at highest risk from prostate cancer, such as men with a family history of the disease, she explained.
"But we are not very good at narrowing the universe of men down to the subset of those who are actually at higher risk of developing prostate cancer," Kinsinger said. "If we could develop a means of identifying people who are
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