Assessing benefit and risk in the prevention of prostate cancer: The prostate cancer prevention trial revisited

Eric A. Klein, Catherine M. Tangen, Phyllis J. Goodman, Scott M. Lippman, Ian M. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose: The Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial demonstrated a 25% reduction in period prevalence of prostate cancer in men randomly assigned to 5 mg/d of finasteride. However, widespread use of finasteride for prevention is inhibited by the observed increased risk of high-grade disease. We present a model of risk and benefit that estimates the potential effects of histologic artifact in the assignment of excess risk for high-grade disease and the possible effect of overdetection bias introduced by finasteride-induced volume reduction. Methods: The absolute benefit/absolute risk ratio of finasteride use was estimated by calculating the ratio of absolute risk reduction in the finasteride arm to the absolute risk of excess high-grade cancers. This ratio was recalculated for assumptions that 10%, 25%, or 50% of the excess high-grade cancers were due to histologic artifact, and that there was a 25% overdetection bias in the finasteride arm. Results: For all cancers the absolute benefit/absolute risk ratio increased from 4.6:1 to 5.1:1, 6.2:1, and 9.2:1 for assumptions of 10%, 25%, or 50% histologic artifact, respectively. The ratio increased from 4.6:1 to 8.2:1 for the assumption of 25% overdetection bias, and to 9.1:1, 10.9:1, and 16.3:1 for combined assumptions of 25% overdetection bias and 10%, 25%, or 50% histologic artifact, respectively. Conclusion: The adoption of a prevention strategy hinges on potential benefits weighed against potential risks. This model demonstrates the magnitude of effect for a hypothesized range of histologic artifact and overdetection bias on the assessment of risk versus benefit for finasteride.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7460-7466
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number30
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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