Dutasteride reduces risk of prostate cancer

By Candy Lashkari

There is good news for those at high risk for prostate cancer. The drug dutasteride which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline as the drug Avodart, has been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer by a quarter. The drug is at present being used to treat enlarged prostates.

A four year international study conducted on the drug dutasteride has shown that it reduced the risk of being diagnosed by prostate cancer by 23% in men at a higher risk of getting the cancer. 250 sites in 42 countries found dutasteride to be more effective in reducing the cancer risk than a similar drug, finasteride. Finasteride had proved effective in the risk reduction in a previous study.

Dr. Gerald Andriole of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, headed the new study in which 8,231 men of the age group between 50 to 75 years participated. All men had elevated levels of PSA and no evidence of prostate tumors on a biopsy. 50% were give the drug dutasteride and 50% were given a placebo. Second and third biopsies were conducted at the end of two years and four years respectively.

Dr. Jack Jacoub, a medical oncologist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, who was not involved in the research, said that the latest study, “is further evidence that there is a role for these drugs in risk reduction. If a patient understands all the issues, I think it would be appropriate to provide it.

GlaxoSmithKline is now going to approach the FDA with an application to market the drug Avodart as a way to reduce risk in men with high PSA levels who are prone to prostate cancer. Ethinicity, and family history are also factors which increase the risk of prostate cancer in some men. This is based on the new study which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Howard M. Sandler, an oncologist with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said "The question might be, why isn't every man taking one of these drugs? They help people urinate better by shrinking the prostate, they probably reduce baldness and they reduce the risk of prostate cancer. There seems to be very little downside to them."

"This means more men could avoid unnecessary treatment for prostate cancer along with the costs and harmful side effects that can occur with treatment." Said the study leader Dr Gerald Andriole

Dr Helen Rippon, head of research management at The Prostate Cancer Charity said, "Of course, we don't yet know what will happen to these men in the coming years and whether they will still go on to develop the disease and it will be many years before we know if the drug can provide any long-term benefit to men."

Be that as it may, it is surely a ray of hope to men who are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer than others.

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