Medicare claims show long-term prostate cancer prevention benefits of finasteride
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IMAGE: Joseph Unger, a SWOG biostatistician and member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has a track record of using new research methods to answer bigger, bolder questions about cancer… view more 

Credit: The Hope Foundation

Men who take the medication finasteride get a prostate cancer prevention benefit that can last 16 years – twice as long as previously recorded, according to SWOG clinical trial analysis published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

This finding was made possible by a new research strategy – linking Medicare claims data to clinical trial data, in this case from a landmark study run by SWOG, the federally funded cancer clinical trial network. The SWOG study, known as the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, or PCPT, set out to see whether finasteride, a drug used to treat symptoms of prostate enlargement as well as male pattern baldness, would prevent prostate cancer in men over the age of 55. The study enrolled 18,882 men from 1993-1997. It was stopped in 2003 when investigators learned that finasteride reduced prostate cancer risk by 25 percent when compared with a placebo. SWOG leader Ian Thompson, Jr., MD, of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital Health System, was

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