(HealthDay News) — Use of finasteride reduces the risk of a prostate cancer (PCa) diagnosis, but does not significantly affect mortality rates after following men for 18 years, according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, held from Feb. 14 to 16 in Orlando, Fla.

Phyllis J. Goodman, of the SWOG Statistical Center in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a survival analysis using data from the Social Security Death Index to assess any evidence of an increased risk of death in men randomized to finasteride, a potential indicator of a “true” increased risk of high-grade disease.

The researchers found that after 18 years of follow-up 5,128 deaths were reported: 2,584 in men taking finasteride and 2,544 in men taking placebo. For all randomized men, the 15-year survival rate was 78 percent. The hazard ratio for overall survival on finasteride compared to placebo was 1.04 (P = 0.19). From diagnosis, the 10-year survival for men with PCa was slightly higher for men randomized to finasteride (83 versus 81 percent) but not statistically significant (HR, 0.87). There was no evidence of worse survival for men with high-grade PCa on finasteride (HR, 1.01; P = 0.97), while those diagnosed with low-grade disease on finasteride had superior survival (HR, 0.73; P = 0.01).

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“With follow-up of 18 years, finasteride administration for seven years does not appear to affect mortality but significantly reduces the risk of a PCa diagnosis,” the authors write.

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