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5-alpha reductase inhibitor use not linked to prostate cancer mortality

A meta-analysis suggests use of 5-alpha reductase inhibitor drugs does not increase the risk of prostate cancer death in men

Prostate cancer (PC) is the second most common cancer in men with over 1.4 million new cases in 2020. Findings from 2003, suggest that 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs) such as finasteride, prevent or delay the appearance of prostate cancer. Other work with another agent, dutasteride, also noted a lower risk of incident prostate cancer. However, in 2011, the FDA warned that 5-ARIs may increase the risk of a more serious form of prostate cancer. Despite this the available data is conflicting. For example, in one study, use of 5-ARIs led to a delay in cancer diagnosis and worsened cancer-specific outcomes in men with PC. In contrast, another could not detect an association between 5-ARI use and prostate cancer death.

In the present study, researchers undertook a meta-analysis on the association of 5-ARI use and death from prostate cancer. The primary outcome was the incidence of PC mortality among 5-alpha reductase inhibitor users and non-users.

5-alpha reductase inhibitor use and prostate cancer

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There were 11 studies meeting the inclusion criteria, only one of which was an RCT and the remainder cohort studies. A total of 3,243,575 men were identified, 138,477 of whom were using a 5-ARI drug.

There was no significant association between 5-ARI use and prostate cancer death (hazard ratio, HR = 1.04, 95% CI 0.80 – 1.35, p = 0.79). In addition, there was also no association when restricting the analysis to exclude patients with a PC diagnosis at baseline (HR = 1.0, 95% CI 0.60 – 1.67, p = 0.99). When adjusting for prostate specific antigen level, there was a lower risk of prostate cancer mortality but this was non-significant (HR = 0.76, 95% CI 0.57 – 1.03, p = 0.08).

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