Taking finasteride did not cause any negative effects on the quality of life for patients enrolled in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT), according to a study published September 12 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute .

The Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial was a 7-year randomized placebo-controlled trial that studied the effects of finasteride (a 5α-reductase inhibitor) in preventing prostate cancer. Previous studies have been conducted on the efficacy of finasteride in prostate cancer; however, there has been no substantial data with regard to the effects of finasteride’s long-term use on health-related quality of life.

In order to determine the effects of prolonged use of finasteride on the quality of life of prostate cancer patients, Carol M. Moinpour, Ph.D., of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues, looked at three health-related quality-of-life domains which measured physical function, mental health, and vitality. The data were gathered through questionnaires completed by participants in the study at 3 months prior to randomization, 6 months after randomization, and then at follow-up annually for 7 years.

The researchers found that finasteride did not statistically significantly affect Physical Functioning scores of patients enrolled in the trial; results were similar for Mental Health and Vitality scores. Other medical variables such as comorbidity and smoking had a large effect on the physical function of the patient. “Our results show that natural sources of variability in this heterogeneous population and comorbidity status, particularly diabetes and current smoking status, had a greater clinically relevant impact on the Physical Functioning score then did finasteride treatment,” the authors write, adding that other lifestyle factors and comorbidities should be evaluated with preventive interventions. “Our findings reinforce the need to consider individual differences in age, time on study, smoking status, and medical comorbidities when evaluating the effect of different preventive interventions on health-related quality of life,” the authors write.

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