FRIDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Men with prostate cancer taking the drug finasteride (Proscar) don't survive longer than similar men not taking the drug, a new study finds.
Although Proscar is touted to reduce the odds of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, once diagnosed, men do not appear to gain a benefit from the drug, researchers say.
However, they don't face lowered survival from the drug, a researcher added.
"There is no evidence that finasteride is worse than placebo, in terms of overall survival," said lead author Phyllis Goodman, a biostatistician at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle.
"If you are inclined to give finasteride to prevent cancer, survival shouldn't be a reason not to do it," she said. "You may not be improving survival in the long run, but you are avoiding having to deal with a diagnosis of prostate cancer."
Based on the new finding, one expert doesn't recommend men take Proscar.
"This lessens the importance of finasteride, because if you wanted to use it as a preventive measure you hope the death rate would go down," said Dr. Anthony D'Amico, chief of genitourinary radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston.
One problem with the study is that it deals with overall deaths -- not deaths specifically caused by prostate cancer. So it's hard to tell how effective Proscar really is, D'Amico said.
"Without a survival improvement it's hard to justify using the drug," he said. "Let me see what the cancer-specific survival looks like and then we can decide if it's appropriate at all."
The results of the study were presented Thursday at the annual Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in Orlando, Fla. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
For the U.S. National Cancer Institute-funded study, researchers collected dat
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