The use of 5α-reductase inhibitors (5α-RIs) as prostate cancer chemoprevention agents is controversial. Two large randomized trials, the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) and the Reduction by Dutasteride of Prostate Cancer Events (REDUCE) Trial, have both shown a decreased incidence of prostate cancer in patients administered with 5α-RIs. Both studies showed, however, an increased risk of higher-grade prostate cancer. Numerous studies have since analyzed the inherent biases in these landmark studies and have used mathematical modeling to estimate the true incidence of prostate cancer and the risk for high-grade prostate cancer in patients undergoing 5α-RI treatment. All primary publications associated with the PCPT and REDUCE studies were reviewed in detail. Pertinent references from the above publications were assessed and a literature search of all published articles associated with PCPT, REDUCE or 5α-RIs as chemopreventative agents through October 2013 was performed using Pubmed/Medline. PCPT and REDUCE both showed a significant decrease in the incidence of prostate cancer following the administration of 5α-reductase inhibitor, as compared with placebo, suggesting that 5α-RIs may be effective agents for prostate cancer chemoprevention. Inherent biases in the design of these two studies may have caused an artificial increase in the number of high-grade cancers reported. Mathematical models, that integrated data from these trials, revealed neither an increased nor decreased risk of high-grade disease when taking these biases into consideration. Moderately strong evidence exists that 5α-RIs may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. PCPT and REDUCE showed a decreased prevalence of prostate cancer in patients taking 5α-RIs. Urologists should have a working knowledge of these studies and discuss with patients the risks and benefits of 5α-RI treatment. Further studies to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of chemoprevention with 5α-RIs and appropriate patient selection are warranted.

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Published in Oncology Letters, v. 8, no. 4, p. 1391-1396.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ol.2014.2388

Copyright © Spandidos Publications 2015. All rights reserved.

The copyright holders have granted the permission for posting the article here.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the James F. Hardymon Endowment.