(HealthDay News) — Finasteride is not associated with an increased risk for death due to prostate cancer, according to a research letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Noting that a previous trial showed that finasteride was associated with a reduced risk for prostate cancer compared with placebo but a higher risk for high-grade cancer, Phyllis J. Goodman, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues examined whether finasteride would lead to an increase in prostate cancer mortality. To address this question, the authors calculated the cumulative incidence of death from prostate cancer among all participants who underwent randomization.

The researchers found that during 296,842 person-years of follow-up and a median follow-up of 18.4 years, there were 3048 deaths in 9423 men randomly assigned to finasteride (42 due to prostate cancer) and 2979 deaths in 9457 men randomly assigned to placebo (56 due to prostate cancer). The 25% lower risk for death from prostate cancer with finasteride was not statistically significant because of the small number of deaths from prostate cancer.

“The early concerns regarding an association between finasteride and an increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer have not been borne out,” the authors write.

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Reference

Goodman PJ. Long-Term Effects of Finasteride on Prostate Cancer Mortality. N Engl J Med 2019; 380:393-394. DOI:10.1056/NEJMc1809961