FDA Issues New Warnings: Prostate Drugs Could Increase Cancer Risk

In American men, cases of prostate cancer are second only to skin cancer in number of yearly diagnoses. In 2010 over 200,000 cases were diagnosed, and over 30,000 men died from it. Treatment ranges from hormone therapy to surgery and radiation. There are also several medications on the market that are designed to shrink enlarged prostates who also claim to reduce risk of cancer. For example, British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline petitioned the US FDA nearly a year ago to approve their prescription grade Avodart for use in cancer reduction based on one of their in house trials and were denied. Now, the FDA is using that same study against them in adding new warnings to Avodart and other prostate drugs that say there is actually an INCREASED risk of more serious types of cancer.   According to FDA statistics, nearly 5 million prescriptions for these drugs were written between 2002 and 2009. Doctors are being advised not to start new patients on these drugs until prostate cancer has been ruled out, as it can mirror the symptoms of enlarged prostate. All drugs affected are in a class called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors and most are approved to treat enlarged prostates. More aggressive cancer development isnt the only side effect now being warned about with these drugs though. 3 of the drugs affected by this warning also are associated with increasing risk for erectile dysfunction according to recent research.   While the new studies show a slight increase in risk for high grade cancers, they also show a reduced risk of lesser cancers. Dr. Anthony DAmico, chief of genitourinary radiation oncology at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston said that the warning is appropriate. The risk is very small, but not zero. He also noted that there isnt a clear reason why the drugs would reduce risk of lesser cancers but increase that of higher impact varities.   Sources: Huffington Post MSN Health    

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