Proscar is the brand name for the generic drug finasteride, which is often prescribed to help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate. For patients unable to take Proscar, there are a few alternative options to treat BPH.
Finasteride, or Proscar, works by preventing testosterone from converting to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, which contributes to an enlarged prostate as men age, Drugs.com explains
There are some risks, however, the drug may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Allergic reactions may include difficulty breathing, hives, or swelling of the face, throat, lips, and tongue.
Erectile dysfunction and loss of interest in sex have also been side effects.
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Other side effects include weakness, dizziness, headache, skin rash, and swelling in the hands or feet.
Breast changes require immediate medical attention as male breast cancer is a potential concern of Proscar, says Drugs.com.
Proscar is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, which shrinks the prostate by "blocking the action of the chief male hormone responsible for growth of the prostate," according to Harvard Medical School
. This helps improve urine flow that is often disrupted because of an enlarged prostate.
Men should consult with their doctor about available alternative treatment options if unwanted side effects arise or symptoms worsen. Also, men should notify their physician of other medications they're taking, including erectile dysfunction pills, to avoid risky drug interactions.
Although DHT levels may fall within several weeks of using Proscar, it may take three to six months or longer for men to notice improvement, Harvard Medical School notes. So patience is advised before looking for alternative options.
Sometimes the doctor may recommend combination therapy for better relief of symptoms, according to Healthline
. Doctors may prescribe Proscar with doxazosin, a hypertension medication that also relaxes the muscles in the prostate.
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Depending on a patient's symptoms and complaints, there are other generic drugs available to treat an enlarged prostate a doctor may prescribe, such as dutasteride, which is also a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor and works similarly as finasteride. Dutasteride is available in Avodart, and carries same side effects as Proscar.
Aside from generic drug alternatives, options also include supplements. Beta-sitosterol may improve urine flow, but it does not shrink the prostate, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center
Saw palmetto is an herb that may act similar to Proscar in interfering with DHT and prostate growth. Some studies suggest saw palmetto is as effective as Proscar in relieving prostatic symptoms, but other studies show no improvement.
African plum extract is a herbal remedy that can improve urinary flow but it has no reported impact on the size of an enlarged prostate.
Rye grass pollen improves BPH symptoms, but the evidence is scant that it can shrink an enlarged prostate. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises men with pollen allergies to avoid this remedy.
Surgery can be an effective option be if alternatives like Proscar have a less encouraging prognosis.
Women and children should avoid contact with Proscar and similar 5-alpha reductase inhibitors at all costs.
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