"We know that we are over-treating prostate cancer," said Dr. Louis Potters, chairman of radiation medicine at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Manhasset, N.Y.
"In the U.S., patients have a tendency to hear the word 'cancer,' and want to treat it right away," he said. "In these men with early prostate cancer, we can now say, 'Let's put you on this medication, and see what happens over the next couple of months.'"
However, some experts have concerns about 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning that men who take these drugs to treat enlarged prostate glands may be at increased risk for high-grade prostate cancer.
Dr. Ryan Terlecki, an assistant professor of urology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said this may dampen enthusiasm for use of the drug to treat cancer.
"The overall role that these medications will play for urologists will decrease," Terlecki said. Doctors will likely begin looking toward noninvasive and/or non-medical treatments such as the use of thermal heat to cope with some of the symptoms of prostate conditions, he added.
Learn more about prostate cancer at the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Neil E. Fleshner, M.D., head, division of urology, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto; Louis Potters, M.D., chairman, radiation medicine, North Shore University Hospital and LIJ Medical Center, Manhasset, N.Y.; Ryan Terlecki, M.D., assistant professor, urology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Jan. 25, 2012, The Lancet, online
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