Eur Urol. 1998 ; 34 Suppl 2(): 10-7; discussion 46.
Medical therapy and quality of life.
Department of Urology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK. [email protected]
The risk of mortality and long-term morbidity, including loss of sexual function, associated with surgical procedures for symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) has prompted research into alternative medical therapies. Phytotherapy involves the use of herbal formulations, where the mechanisms of action are usually obscure and although studies have confirmed their effectiveness in symptom relief and improving quality of life (QOL), few placebo-controlled trials exist. Both the 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor finasteride and alpha 1-adrenoceptor antagonists (e.g. alfuzosin, doxazosin, prazosin, tamsulosin and terazosin) have been recommended as appropriate treatment options for patients with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) associated with benign prostatic obstruction (BPO), and their efficacy has been proven in several placebo-controlled trials. Finasteride reduces the static component of BPO--by reducing the size of the prostate--and, as a result, symptom relief is slow (6-12 months) and is predominantly restricted to patients with large prostates (> 40 g). The alpha 1-adrenoceptor antagonists, on the other hand, reduce the dynamic component of obstruction--relaxation of smooth muscle in the prostate, urethra and bladder neck--and provide rapid symptom relief after only a few doses, relieving LUTS more effectively than finasteride and irrespective of prostate size. All of the various alpha 1-adrenoceptor antagonists provide effective and comparable relief of LUTS, and an improvement in bothersomeness and symptom-related QOL. However, it is also important that the therapy is fast acting and acceptable to the patient, in that it does not interfere with other medication or produce unpleasant side effects. These documented properties of the alpha 1A-adrenoceptor antagonists make them an ideal choice for the medical treatment of symptomatic BPH.