ACSH staffers have already discussed chemoprevention in the context of women refusing preventive medication for breast cancer. Marketed as Proscar by Merck, finasteride has been shown in recent studies to reduce the risk of prostate cancer the second-leading cause of cancer death in men by about 25%. A Veterans Health Administration survey of 325 VHA urologists and 1,200 VHA primary-care physicians found that 64 percent of urologists and 80 percent of physicians did not prescribe finasteride as a preventive measure against prostate cancer between 2000 and 2005.
This is a case-in-point of the benefit of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, which has been so widely demonized, argues ACSH's Jeff Stier. If more people and doctors were made aware of this phenomenon, perhaps more men would be given the option of protecting themselves from prostate cancer.
But who is supposed to take this medication? laments ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. There are no definitive risk factors for prostate cancer, and unlike cholesterol problems, there is no way to effectively screen for the disease early on. And what is the downside of taking this drug hair growth? Chemoprevention is being severely underutilized, and most people including doctors do not know about this.