Prostate cancer expert, Dr. Anthony D'Amico, chief of radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, agreed that the fear of adverse consequences of finasteride has made doctors reluctant to prescribe it.
"The bottom line is that despite all the well-designed and well-thought-out studies to explain why high-grade prostate cancer was increased, while low-grade prostate cancer diagnoses decreased with finasteride use in the PCPT, physicians remain hesitant to prescribe finasteride as a preventive agent," he said. "And so the observation in the VA system in the current study supports the sentiment I have heard when traveling around the country and teaching on this topic."
So the path forward may be difficult, he said.
"The way it's thought of is 'If I take this drug I am going to prevent a prostate cancer that may or may not need treatment. I am going to increase my risk, to a very small degree, of a cancer that may not be curable,'" he said. "And that's how people read it."
For more information on prostate cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Linda Kinsinger, M.D., M.P.H., chief consultant, preventive medicine, Veterans Health Administration National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Durham, N.C.; Anthony D'Amico, M.D., Ph.D., chief, radiation oncology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; September 2010 Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention
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