Common Drug Slows Prostate Cancer Growth
According to a new study, a drug that is commonly used to treat men with enlarged prostates may also delay the growth of prostate cancer.
The drug, dutasteride, works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, the male sex hormone implicated in the development of prostate cancer.
For the study – published in the Jan. 24 online edition of The Lancet – 302 men ages 48 to 82 with low-risk localized prostate cancer were assigned either once daily dutasteride or a placebo for 3 years.
Patients were given biopsies at 18 months and 3 years, and given a questionnaire about cancer-related anxiety.
The results showed that treatment with dutasteride significantly delayed prostate cancer progression – 38 percent versus 48 percent progression in those given the placebo.
What’s more, men treated with dutasteride were also less likely to have cancer detected in their final biopsy – 36 percent with no cancer detected, versus 23 percent of those who had been given the placebo.
Men treated with dutasteride also reported significantly lower anxiety throughout the study.
The study authors concluded that duasteride “provides a treatment option for men with low-risk, localized disease.” In an accompanying comment to the study, Chris Parker from the Royal Marsden National Health Service Foundation Trust warned that dutasteride “has no effect, or even an adverse effect, on the progression of high-grade disease.
Thus, although reducing overall prostate cancer detection, dutasteride could plausibly have no effect (or possibly a deleterious one) on prostate cancer mortality.”
“I think the study has profound implications for us,” Dr. Leonard G. Gomella, of Jefferson University in Philadelphia, told reporters.
“We are looking for better ways to manage men on active surveillance for prostate cancer. I think the fact that some men in the dutasteride arm had a reduction in the amount of prostate cancer is very encouraging.”
Nearly 242,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, according to the National Cancer Institute.
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