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Generic prostate drug helps find high-risk cancers early
Date:9/11/2007

rs closed the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) early to report very good news. Study results showed that finasteride, commonly used to treat enlarged prostate, could also make a man one-fourth less likely to get prostate cancer.

But that positive overall result which potentially could keep around 50,000 men from developing prostate cancer each year was clouded by a troubling finding: Men who took the drug but still developed prostate cancer by the end of the study had higher rates of detected high-grade tumors, an aggressive form of the disease, than did men in the placebo group.

The follow-up study, along with two others published recently, strongly suggests that finasteride makes it easier for physicians to detect high-grade cancers early by improving screening tests and prostate biopsy itself. The two previous studies show that finasteride improves the effectiveness of the two main measures of possible problems: digital rectal examination and the PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test, which measures hormone changes associated with the disease. In some men who have low PSA test results, cancer is present but not found in time.

Finasteride makes the PSA test perform better, so we can find the cancer earlier, Thompson says. Our current study also shows that by shrinking the prostate gland, finasteride makes a biopsy more sensitive for any cancers that are present. That increased accuracy is very important, he adds, because if a biopsy reveals a slow-growing cancer but fails to spot a fast-growing one, a doctor and patient may take a wait and see approach when prompt treatment is actually needed.

In part because of concerns about possible drawbacks, most urologists, when asked about finasteride, say they seldom prescribe it as a prevention drug, despite the positive 2003 PCPT findings, Thompson says. Now, with several studies allaying concerns about the drugs possible drawbacks, including concerns about sexual dysf
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Contact: Anne Rueter
arueter@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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