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    Drug for Enlarged Prostate May Slow Cancer Growth

    Could Avodart Be an Alternative to Surgery, Radiation for Low-Risk Prostate Cancer?

    Avodart-Treated Patients Less Anxious

    Roughly half the men in the study took the prostate drug for three years while the other half took placebo pills.

    Biopsies were performed after 18 months and three years to measure disease progression, and the men completed questionnaires about how anxious they were about their cancer.

    Men treated with Avodart reported significantly less cancer-related anxiety.

    They were also more likely to have delayed prostate cancer progression and show no evidence of cancer on their final biopsy.

    The Avodart-treated patients did experience more drug-related side effects (24% vs. 15%), consisting mainly of sexual dysfunction.

    The study was funded by Avodart manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, and the company was also involved in its design, Fleshner says.

    It appears this week in the online edition of the journal The Lancet.

    ‘More Study Needed to Prove Benefit’

    Fleshner says the fact that significantly fewer men who took Avodart chose to have surgery or radiation shows a "real world" benefit for the treatment.

    But Brooks says the study was not large enough or the follow-up long enough to prove that the drug improves long-term outcomes in patients with low-risk prostate cancers.

    He agrees that drug treatments that clearly affect disease progression could convince more low-risk patients to forgo surgery or radiation.

    “Unfortunately, I don’t think we can put this drug in that category yet,” he tells WebMD.

    “With or without a drug treatment, we now know that active surveillance is a reasonable approach for many men with low-risk prostate cancers,” Brooks says.

    “We now have relatively well-defined criteria to tell us when active surveillance is appropriate and reasonable protocols to help us follow men who choose this path.”

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