05/11/2010 - Articles

Chemoprevention of prostate cancer with dutasteride

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. However, some cases of prostate cancer are more aggressive than others. With a slow-growing prostate cancer, a man may not need any treatment other than ‘watchful waiting’ while with an aggressive tumor surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy or some combination of the three might be required. There is also the question of whether routine prostate cancer screening, though measuring prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels and/or digital rectal examination, is a good idea. One issue is clear – if a good method of chemoprevention (taking a preventive drug) for prostate cancer could be found, many men and their doctors would be interested in taking it up.

Researchers for the REDUCE (Reduction by Dutasteride of Prostate Cancer Events) Study Group now report new findings on the possible chemoprevention of prostate cancer. They looked at dutasteride which, like finasteride, blocks the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone. These drugs, which are called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, are used to treat prostate problems and there has been interest in whether they could prevent prostate cancer.

In the REDUCE study, a group of nearly 7,000 men with elevated PSA (and therefore potentially at risk of prostate cancer) were assigned to either 0.5 mg of dutasteride per day or placebo for four years. There was a reduction of cases of prostate cancer found on biopsy of 23% in the dutasteride group. However, we do not know if these would have been clinically significant tumors. It seems likely that the dutasteride works by shrinking tumors rather than actually preventing their formation. Further research is now needed to see whether chemoprevention of prostate cancer by dutasteride actually reduces mortality from the disease.



Andriole GL et al New England Journal of Medicine April 1 2010;362:1192-1202


Created on: 05/11/2010
Reviewed on: 05/11/2010

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Anonymous wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

I enjoyed reading your article. This is very good news and offers hope. There are so many things to consider when faced with prostate problems. A really good book for reference is called "To Pee Or Not To Pee..." by James Norris. It offers a lot of information about prostate health in a straight forward/blunt manner.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Here's a link if you're interested: http://www.prostateandcancer.com/