Prostate cancer is a kind of cancer which is caused in the prostate glands of the body. The prostate gland is a small, walnut sized gland that is a part of a man’s reproductive system. It is one of the most common causes of death amongst men over 75 years of age, although it is rarely found in men less than 40 years.
Those who are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer include;
- Men older than 60 years
- Men with a history of prostate cancer in the family (father or brothers)
- Afro- American males
- Men indulging in high intake of alcohol
- Men in contact with cadmium
- Men in certain professions such as farmers, painters and tire plant workers
- Men whose diet constitute of high animal fat content
As men grow older, the prostate gland tends to enlarge, this condition is known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
Following are the common symptoms of prostate cancer:
- Delayed or slow urinary stream
- Blood in urine and semen
- Leakage of urine after urination
- Bone pain in the lower back or pelvic region
Treatment of the cancer includes surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The magnitude of these treatments is dependent on the severity of cancer and many other factors.
New Studies on Prostate Cancer
A large clinical trial has indicated that men who are at an increased risk of prostate cancer can reduce their risk significantly by regular intake of the drug, dutasteride (Avodart). The trial, REDUCE trial, is the second largest clinical trial that established the decreased risk of prostate cancer in men who were taking a class of drug known as 5-α reductase inhibitors (5-αRIs). Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) conducted previously showed that Finasteride, a drug, also had similar risk reduction abilities as is seen in REDUCE.
According to the lead investigator, Gerald Andriole, M.D., Washington University School of Medicine, the trial depicted that dutasteride helped in shrinking of the prostate tumor and also inhibited its growth. The trial was funded by GlaxoSmithKline, who are also the manufacturers of the drug. They have applied to the FDA to market the drug as a preventive drug from prostate cancer, for those men who are at a higher risk. The drug is already been approved a treatment for men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH.
The trial constituted of 6,700 men between the ages 50 to 75 years, who during the time of enrollment had a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test score between 2.5 to 10 and also had a negative biopsy in the prior 6 months. Majority of the participants were white and received biopsies 2 and 4 years after enrollment. After following up for 4 years, 23% reduction in relative risk of prostate cancer was seen in men who took dutasteride in comparison to those men who took the placebo.
Side effects of the drug include erectile dysfunction as well as decreased libido. Another side effect observed was increased risk of cardiac failure, although rare. Only 30 cases where men took dutasteride were reported with this risk. It is important to note that cardiac arrest was more common in men who took both, dutasteride and drugs known as alpha blockers which are commonly taken for treatment of high blood pressure and BPH.
Those men who were diagnosed with Gleason score 6, an intermediate score, showed the maximum reduction in prostate cancer risk. Although some risk was associated with the drug being a cause of high grade tumor. It was therefore ineffective in reducing the occurrence of high-grade tumors.
To summarize, one can say that this new discovery of the drug’s potential is going to help many men who have been suffering from prostate cancer risk. FDA approval will enable doctors to prescribe this drug as an antidote to prostate cancer rise in men. The only argument that prevails is whether it prevents completely or merely shrinks it. More studies will further confirm its usefulness.
Michelle Tyler is a freelance healthcare writer with more than 10 years experience in the healthcare communications field. A Certified Medical Assistant, she works with the Local Media group to research and report on the latest medical breakthroughs.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/63498656@N04/5783780193/