The director of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center had previously completed a breakthrough study on a drug for prostate cancer, and after a long-term follow up 18 years later, reveals confirmation that the drug has successfully reduced the likelihood of prostate cancer by over 1/3 without affecting an individual’s lifespan.
Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., director of the CTRC at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said that because his research has been proven to reduce the risk of tumors of the prostate by over a third, as well as low-grade tumors by around 43 percent, a large number — thousands — of men can potentially live a cancer-free life. According to Thompson, the number of individuals saved by his research amounts to around 71,000 men who won’t have to suffer debilitating effects of cancer treatment, including sexual dysfunction; and that “there’s nothing like disease prevention. Nothing comes close.” His study was recently published in the online version of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“If we can free thousands of men each year from that unnecessary burden, we could use those resources for other important medical interventions, reducing death and suffering from disease.”
Finasteride, the subject drug of Thompson’s study, is a generic drug created and still currently prescribed by physicians for hypertrophied prostate and male pattern alopecia. Despite its ability to greatly reduce the risk of prostate cancer, it was initially found in a clinical trial of 19,000 men that most of the subjects on finasteride developed high-grade cancer compared to those on a placebo.
This was an alarming finding, prompting physicians to discontinue prescribing the drug and numerous drug studies to verify these findings. These follow up studies revealed that by lessening prostate hypertrophy and enhancing the PSA, finasteride made identifying the tumors easier. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration included a warning label on the increased risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer.
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