Finasteride as prostate cancer screening tool is the subject of new CTRC study

SAN ANTONIO (March 22, 2011) – A new study launching today at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio proposes a revolutionary new way to evaluate men who are having PSA testing for prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. As it is silent until spread occurs, almost 75 percent of U.S. men have had a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test, which is the best way to find cancer early. Unfortunately, PSA is often elevated in men without cancer, leading to many unnecessary biopsies.

James Rodgers of Austin, Texas, is in no hurry to get a biopsy. After learning his PSA was high, he looked at his options around the state, and settled on Ian M. Thompson, M.D., director of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the UT Health Science Center. Dr. Thompson has led many studies in early prostate cancer, including several large studies sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

One study of 18,882 men found that the medication finasteride, currently used for treatment of prostate enlargement, reduces a man’s risk of prostate cancer. The drug also causes PSA to fall by about 50 percent. Dr. Thompson and colleagues have found that the degree to which PSA falls with finasteride is directly related to the risk of cancer: The more the PSA falls over a two-year period, the lower the risk of cancer.

From this observation was born this study, which will answer the question of whether the degree of fall in PSA with a short three-month period of treatment with finasteride can determine which man has a high risk of cancer and ought to have a biopsy.

Rodgers is the first participant in the study, and said he’s hoping to help men “get a better idea of where they stand when they get the PSA test.”

Men at a 20 to 60 percent risk of prostate cancer (measured with the Prostate Cancer Risk Calculator, at the Health Science Center’s CTRC website or at are eligible for the study. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive finasteride or a matching placebo tablet; out of five men, four will receive finasteride. A total of 450 men will be enrolled.

“This study was viewed by the National Cancer Institute as an important and innovative step in detection of prostate cancer,” Dr. Thompson said. “Here at the CTRC, it is our vision of a future in which only those men with cancer require a biopsy, while those men without cancer can be reassured, just with our blood testing, that they are cancer-free.”

For more information related to the study, call 210-567-1995 or 210-450-9658.


The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit

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