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The two drugs work in different ways and may not have the same safety profile, said Dr. Barnett Kramer, a National Institutes of Health scientist who led the expert panel and had no role in the study.
In the full Avodart results, "the important detail is there's a heart failure signal here that was unanticipated," Kramer said.
Dr. Otis Brawley, who helped run the study before becoming the American Cancer Society's chief medical officer in 2007, said the heart failure risk may be a fluke, but men would need to be watched for it. If it develops, "it's reason to stop the drug," he said.
How many men would opt to take either drug for prostate cancer prevention is unclear. The cost is about $3 a pill. To prevent a single additional case of cancer, 71 men would have to take Proscar for seven years, doctors have calculated.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in American men. About 192,000 new cases and 27,000 deaths from it occurred last year.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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