ProHealth health Vitamin and Natural Supplement Store and Health
Home  |  Log In  |  My Account  |  View Cart  View Your ProHealth Vitamin and Supplement Shopping Cart
800-366-6056  |  Contact Us  |  Help
Facebook Google Plus
Fibromyalgia  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & M.E.  Lyme Disease  Natural Wellness  Supplement News  Forums  Our Story
Store     Brands   |   A-Z Index   |   Best Sellers   |   New Products   |   Deals & Specials   |   Under $10   |   SmartSavings Club

Trending News

10 Fibro-Friendly Foods with a Bonus: Beautiful Skin

Studies Show that Magnesium L-threonate Improves Brain Plasticity, Leading to Direct and Significant...

Clary Sage Oil May Be Pricey, but Its Benefits Are Priceless

Pumpkin Pie Turmeric Breakfast Smoothie - Vegan + Gluten-Free

Component of red wine, grapes can help to reduce inflammation, study finds

Poly MVA: A Novel Therapy for Increasing Energy, Repairing DNA, and Promoting Overall Health

Vitamin D supplementation extends life in mouse model of Huntington's disease

Omega-3 fatty acid stops known trigger of lupus

Conquer Your Email Inbox, Increase Productivity and Reduce Stress

The Significance of Selenium

Print Page
Email Article

First Prostate Cancer Prevention Drug Found, But Not All Men Benefit

  [ 108 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • June 25, 2003

Men who took finasteride, a drug that affects male hormone levels, reduced their chances of getting prostate cancer by nearly 25 percent compared to men who took a placebo, according to results of a national study released today online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

These findings resulted in the early closing of the study, called the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT), which was coordinated by a network of researchers called the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) and funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The 10-year trial, involving nearly 19,000 participants nationwide, was originally scheduled to end in May 2004.

"Finasteride is the first drug found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer," said Ian Thompson, M.D., University of Texas Health Sciences Center, who led the study. "The drug worked for men at low risk for prostate cancer, as well as those at high risk." Age, PSA level at enrollment, family history of prostate cancer, and race or ethnicity did not affect the drug's ability to prevent the disease.

"There is a cautionary note," said Thompson. "Men in the study who developed prostate cancer while taking finasteride were more likely to have high-grade cancers, which, when found in the general population, may spread quickly even if the tumors are small. But, more than 97 percent of men who did develop prostate cancer during this study had early-stage cancers, which are most often curable."

The reason men on finasteride had more high-grade tumors is currently unknown, but the researchers are studying several possibilities. The drug affects the appearance of prostate cancer cells, and this may lead to a false estimate of tumor grade, which is determined visually by a pathologist. Another possible explanation being examined is whether finasteride truly causes more aggressive tumors to develop--either by preventing only low-grade tumors, or by making the prostate gland more favorable to aggressive tumors.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, after skin cancer, and will affect nearly 221,000 men in the United States this year. About 29,000 men will die of the disease. The disease--as well as its treatment, which sometimes leads to impotence, urinary incontinence, and other problems--causes a significant health burden for men.

"These findings highlight the importance of funding clinical trials that focus on prevention," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, of which NCI is a part. "Our ultimate goal is to prevent tumors in the first place."

"This study is one important step toward understanding the complexities of prostate cancer as a disease," said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., NCI director. "This landmark study and the wealth of information gained from it will provide critical insight for future prevention strategies."

"Millions of men may benefit from finasteride's ability to reduce prostate cancer risk," said Leslie Ford, M.D., associate director for clinical research in NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention, who oversaw PCPT for the institute. "As with any medical procedure or intervention, a decision to take finasteride is an individual one in which the benefits and risks must be considered."

Finasteride was approved in 1992 at a 5 milligram (mg) dose for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate that can cause problems with urine flow. A few years later, the drug was approved at a 1 mg dose to treat male pattern baldness. In PCPT, healthy men ages 55 and older were randomly assigned to take either 5 mg finasteride or placebo daily for seven years. Neither the participants nor their doctors knew which men were assigned to take which pills. This type of study, called a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, is considered the scientific gold standard for determining if an intervention works.

Men chosen for PCPT showed no evidence of prostate cancer at the start of the trial. To enter the study, men needed to have a normal digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) level of 3 nanograms/milliliter (ng/ml) or less. These tests were repeated annually. The participants also agreed to have a prostate biopsy after they had participated for seven years. At the time the trial ended, about 9,000 men had undergone biopsies.

"We extend our deepest appreciation to the study participants," Thompson said. PCPT researchers will continue to monitor the men who participated in the trial at the more than 200 sites around the country. "What these men have already given us is priceless," said Thompson. "But, we will continue to learn much more. The participants provided us with blood and biopsy samples, and this repository of biological materials will prove invaluable in learning more about the molecular changes that happen as prostate cancer develops."

On March 3, 2003, the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee, an independent body that periodically examined the study, advised that the trial be closed early. The recommendation came because data already collected were sound, and the conclusions were extremely unlikely to change with the addition of more data.

By the close of the study, prostate cancer had been found in about 18 percent of the men who took finasteride, or 803 men out of 4,368. About 24 percent of men who took placebo, or 1,147 men out of 4,692, also had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Many of the men with cancer had normal DREs and PSA levels, and the disease was found only because the trial required an end-of-study biopsy.

Despite the fact that men taking finasteride had fewer prostate cancers overall, they had a greater proportion of high-grade prostate cancers. Overall, 6.4 percent of men on finasteride (280 men out of 4,368) had high-grade tumors. For men on placebo, 5.1 percent (237 men out of 4,692) had high-grade cancers. Having a low PSA level did not correlate with the development of aggressive tumors--some of the men in both groups of the trial had high-grade disease despite PSA levels that would not have been a concern if the participants had received routine screening outside of the trial.

"Although a larger percentage of men taking finasteride had tumors that appeared to be more aggressive to a pathologist, we do not know if those tumors will act biologically aggressive," said Ford. "We will follow these men long term to determine whether a cancer that looks high grade in a man taking finasteride correlates medically with aggressive disease."

The researchers regularly monitored participants for side effects. Compared to men on placebo, more men taking finasteride experienced sexual side effects at some point during the study. On the other hand, urinary symptoms were reported by more men taking placebo.

"PCPT and its findings mark a milestone for the field of cancer prevention, and we will continue to learn more in the years to come," Ford said. "Finasteride's ability to prevent prostate cancer has the potential to reduce the health care burden for this very common disease. The next time men see their doctors, they may want to talk to them about these findings."

Finasteride is just one agent the NCI has been studying to prevent prostate cancer. Another large prevention study currently underway, the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, or SELECT, is determining if these two dietary supplements can protect against prostate cancer.

SWOG, the same group that coordinated PCPT, is conducting the SELECT study for NCI. "Men can take finasteride and still participate in SELECT," said Charles A. Coltman Jr., M.D., chairman of SWOG and director of the San Antonio Cancer Institute in Texas.

For more information on PCPT or SELECT, the public may call the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) for information in English or Spanish. Or online, visit

Post a Comment

Featured Products From the ProHealth Store
Ultra ATP+, Double Strength Optimized Curcumin Longvida® Mitochondria Ignite™ with NT Factor®

Looking for Vitamins, Herbs and Supplements?
Search the ProHealth Store for Hundreds of Natural Health Products

Article Comments

Be the first to comment on this article!

Post a Comment

Natural Pain Relief Supplements

Featured Products

Optimized Curcumin Longvida® Optimized Curcumin Longvida®
Supports Cognition, Memory & Overall Health
Energy NADH™ 12.5mg Energy NADH™ 12.5mg
Improve Energy & Cognitive Function
Vitamin D3 Extreme™ Vitamin D3 Extreme™
50,000 IU Vitamin D3 - Prescription Strength
FibroSleep™ FibroSleep™
The All-in-One Natural Sleep Aid
Ultra ATP+, Double Strength Ultra ATP+, Double Strength
Get energized with malic acid & magnesium

Natural Remedies

Repair Damaged Mitochondria and Reduce Fatigue Up to 45% Repair Damaged Mitochondria and Reduce Fatigue Up to 45%
The Guaifenesin Story: A centuries-old bark extract used for clearing the airways – now key to a popular FM symptom-reversal protocol The Guaifenesin Story: A centuries-old bark extract used for clearing the airways – now key to a popular FM symptom-reversal protocol
Enhance Eyelashes Naturally Enhance Eyelashes Naturally
A Hard-Working Molecule that May Help Ease Pain & Brighten Mood A Hard-Working Molecule that May Help Ease Pain & Brighten Mood
The New Dual Activation Pain Relief Cream The New Dual Activation Pain Relief Cream

ProHealth, Inc.
555 Maple Ave
Carpinteria, CA 93013
(800) 366-6056  |  Email

· Become a Wholesaler
· Vendor Inquiries
· Affiliate Program
Credit Card Processing
Be the first to know about new products, special discounts and the latest health news. *New subscribers only

CONNECT WITH US ProHealth on Facebook  ProHealth on Twitter  ProHealth on Pinterest  ProHealth on Google Plus

© 2016 ProHealth, Inc. All rights reserved. Pain Tracker App  |  Store  |  Customer Service  |  Guarantee  |  Privacy  |  Contact Us  |  Library  |  RSS  |  Site Map