Health

Men using finasteride for hair loss ‘at risk’ of missing prostate cancer diagnosis

Losing a certain amount of hair everyday is considered normal. It is thought we shed around 50 to 100 hairs naturally throughout the day.

However, more serious hair loss can be upsetting for the sufferer. In the UK around 15 million people are affected by hair loss.

Many turn to popular hair loss solutions to treat the condition. One of the most commonly used is finasteride, typically taken as a daily tablet.

But one expert has warned how it could lead to a missed prostate cancer diagnosis among men. This is because finasteride is also a medication used to treat benign prostate enlargement.

As part of this it can cause prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels to decrease. PSA are markers often used to detect prostate cancer.

Abbas Kanani, pharmacist of online pharmacy Chemist Click, urged Brits who use Finasteride hair loss treatment to inform their GP as soon as possible, to potentially avoid missing a prostate cancer diagnosis.

“Finasteride lowers PSA, which means it is less likely to flag up issues such as prostate cancer if you are taking Finasteride” explains the pharmacist,” he said.

“That is why it is really important to let your doctor know you are taking finasteride, so this can be accounted for during any prostate tests”.

Figures show that male pattern baldness affects up to 80 percent of men in the course of their life, with a frequency that increases with age after puberty.

Finasteride is a popular prescription-only medication for treating the condition and “works by blocking the body’s production of the male hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which causes the prostate to enlarge and causes hair to fall out”.

The pharmacist added: “In light of the news regarding King Charles’ prostate treatment and recent cancer diagnosis it is imperative that people using this treatment are aware of this potential side effect.”

However, he said: “You should not stop taking it without talking to your doctor first. If you stop taking it, your hair loss will usually come back”.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein located in semen, produced by both normal and malignant cells of the prostate gland.

“PSA liquefies the semen that carries sperm during ejaculation and it’s normal for men to have some PSA in their blood,” Abbas explained.

“The amount of leakage in the blood depends on your age and the health of your prostate.”

Men can be tested for levels of PSA in the blood in order to help detect prostate cancer – but it is not always definite.

He continued: “A high level of PSA can be a sign of cancer, however your PSA level can also be raised in prostate conditions that are not cancer such as an enlarged prostate, prostatitis or urinary tract infection.”

According to the NHS, around three in four men with a raised PSA level will not have cancer, and around one in seven men with prostate cancer would have a normal PSA result.

Symptoms of prostate cancer usually develop very slowly, meaning they may not appear for years.

They are usually only noticeable when the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra).

They include:

  • Needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
  • Needing to rush to the toilet
  • Difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
  • Straining or taking a long time while peeing
  • Weak flow
  • Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
  • Blood in urine or blood in semen.

If you experience any symptoms or have concerns about your prostate you should speak to your GP.


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