The potential public health impact of the recently completed Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) is debated. The results indicated that the period prevalence of prostate cancer was reduced by 24.8% due to finasteride, whereas an increase in the rate of high-grade tumors (Gleason score 8–10) among men who were diagnosed with cancer also was found (5.0% in the PCPT placebo arm vs. 11.9% in the PCPT finasteride arm). Whether the increased Gleason score was valid or was a histologic artifact is under investigation.
The authors estimated the number of person-years saved assuming a 24.8% reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer for 5 years among United States males age ≥ 55 years. Scenarios for different proportions of patients with high-grade Gleason scores also were considered.
With a 24.8% reduction in the number of men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer, the authors estimated that 316,760 person-years would be saved due to finasteride in the United States. An absolute increase of 6.9% in the proportion of men with high-grade tumors in the United States cancer population (corresponding to the difference between the rates on the placebo and finasteride arms of the PCPT) would reduce the number of person-years saved to 262,567. For each absolute increase of 5% in the proportion of patients with high-grade tumors, the number of person-years saved would be reduced by approximately 39,000.
The results of the PCPT may have a major impact on population mortality from prostate cancer if they are applied clinically. The potential detrimental effects of an increased rate of patients who have prostate cancer with high-grade Gleason scores would be outweighed by a reduction in incidence. Cancer 2005. © 2005 American Cancer Society.