Prostate cancer is among the most common causes of death from cancer in men, and accounts for 10% of all new male cancers worldwide. The diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer place a substantial physical and emotional burden on patients and their families, and have considerable financial implications for healthcare providers and society. Given that the risk of prostate cancer continues to increase with age, the burden of the disease is likely to increase in line with population life-expectancy. Reducing the risk of prostate cancer has gained increasing coverage in recent years, with proof of principle shown in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial with the type 2 5alpha-reductase (5AR) inhibitor, finasteride. The long latency period, high disease prevalence, and significant associated morbidity and mortality make prostate cancer a suitable target for a risk-reduction approach. Several agents are under investigation for reducing the risk of prostate cancer, including selenium/vitamin E and selective oestrogen receptors modulators (e.g. toremifene). In addition, the Reduction by Dutasteride of Prostate Cancer Events trial, involving >8000 men, is evaluating the effect of the dual 5AR inhibitor, dutasteride, on the risk of developing prostate cancer. A successful risk-reduction strategy might decrease the incidence of the disease, as well as the anxiety, cost and morbidity associated with its diagnosis and treatment.
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