Dutasteride (Avodart) – a drug already prescribed to shrink benign, enlarged prostates has been shown to reduce the risk of a prostate cancer diagnosis by 23 percent in men.
Results of a large international trial are reported April 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The four-year study found that dutasteride (Avodart?) significantly reduced the chances that men would be diagnosed with the tumors that are most often treated excessively: those that fall in the mid-range of aggressiveness. These tumors, which account for the majority of all prostate cancers, grow unpredictably. This uncertainty leads many men to opt for surgery or radiation therapy ? treatments that can lead to incontinence and impotence.
“Dutasteride may potentially offer many thousands of men a way to reduce their risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer,” says the study’s lead author Gerald Andriole, MD, chief of urologic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “This means more men could avoid unnecessary treatment for prostate cancer along with the costs and harmful side effects that can occur with treatment.”
The trial involved 8,231 men ages 50-75, who were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or a daily 0.5 mg dose of dutasteride, a drug that is known to shrink the prostate. Men in the study were considered to be at increased risk for prostate cancer because they had elevated PSA levels (2.5 ng/ml ? 10 ng/ml) but no evidence of cancer on biopsies performed within six months of enrolling in the trial.
The investigators performed scheduled biopsies on the men two years after they enrolled in the study and again after four years. Over all, 659 men (19.9 percent) taking dutasteride were diagnosed with prostate cancer, compared to 858 men (25.1 percent) taking a placebo. None of the men in the study died of prostate cancer.
Among men with a family history of prostate cancer, the drug reduced the relative risk of a prostate cancer diagnosis by 31.4 percent.
Dutasteride was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001 for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Source: Washington University School of Medicine, USA