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      The Influence of Finasteride on the Development of Prostate Cancer

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          Abstract

          Androgens are involved in the development of prostate cancer. Finasteride, an inhibitor of 5alpha-reductase, inhibits the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, the primary androgen in the prostate, and may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, we randomly assigned 18,882 men 55 years of age or older with a normal digital rectal examination and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level of 3.0 ng per milliliter or lower to treatment with finasteride (5 mg per day) or placebo for seven years. Prostate biopsy was recommended if the annual PSA level, adjusted for the effect of finasteride, exceeded 4.0 ng per milliliter or if the digital rectal examination was abnormal. It was anticipated that 60 percent of participants would have prostate cancer diagnosed during the study or would undergo biopsy at the end of the study. The primary end point was the prevalence of prostate cancer during the seven years of the study. Prostate cancer was detected in 803 of the 4368 men in the finasteride group who had data for the final analysis (18.4 percent) and 1147 of the 4692 men in the placebo group who had such data (24.4 percent), for a 24.8 percent reduction in prevalence over the seven-year period (95 percent confidence interval, 18.6 to 30.6 percent; P<0.001). Tumors of Gleason grade 7, 8, 9, or 10 were more common in the finasteride group (280 of 757 tumors [37.0 percent], or 6.4 percent of the 4368 men included in the final analysis) than in the placebo group (237 of 1068 tumors [22.2 percent], P<0.001 for the comparison between groups; or 5.1 percent of the 4692 men included in the final analysis, P=0.005 for the comparison between groups). Sexual side effects were more common in finasteride-treated men, whereas urinary symptoms were more common in men receiving placebo. Finasteride prevents or delays the appearance of prostate cancer, but this possible benefit and a reduced risk of urinary problems must be weighed against sexual side effects and the increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society

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          Most cited references 19

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          Impotence and Its Medical and Psychosocial Correlates: Results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study

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            The effect of finasteride on the risk of acute urinary retention and the need for surgical treatment among men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Finasteride Long-Term Efficacy and Safety Study Group.

            Finasteride is known to improve urinary symptoms in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia, but the extent to which the benefit is sustained and whether finasteride reduces the incidence of related events, including the need for surgery and the development of acute urinary retention, is not known. In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, we studied 3040 men with moderate-to-severe urinary symptoms and enlarged prostate glands who were treated daily with 5 mg of finasteride or placebo for four years. Symptom scores (on a scale of 1 to 34), urinary flow rates, and the occurrence of outcome events were assessed every four months in 3016 men. Prostate volume was measured in a subgroup of the men. Complete data on outcomes were available for 2760 men. During the four-year study period, 152 of the 1503 men in the placebo group (10 percent) and 69 of the 1513 men in the finasteride group (5 percent) underwent surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia (reduction in risk with finasteride, 55 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, 41 to 65 percent). Acute urinary retention developed in 99 men (7 percent) in the placebo group and 42 men (3 percent) in the finasteride group (reduction in risk with finasteride, 57 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, 40 to 69 percent). Among the men who completed the study, the mean decreases in the symptom score were 3.3 in the finasteride group and 1.3 in the placebo group (P<0.001). Treatment with finasteride also significantly improved urinary flow rates and reduced prostate volume (P<0.001). Among men with symptoms of urinary obstruction and prostatic enlargement, treatment with finasteride for four years reduces symptoms and prostate volume, increases the urinary flow rate, and reduces the risk of surgery and acute urinary retention.
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              The American Urological Association Symptom Index for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                July 17 2003
                July 17 2003
                : 349
                : 3
                : 215-224
                Article
                10.1056/NEJMoa030660
                12824459
                © 2003
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