Proscar is licensed as a BPH treatment for men who have symptoms. It is licensed to help improve enlarged prostate symptoms, to decrease the risk of acute urinary retention (being unable to urinate at all), and to decrease the chance of needing BPH surgery. It is also approved to be used along with another medication, doxazosin (Cardura®), for preventing BPH symptoms from getting worse.
Proscar works by blocking the enzyme Type II 5α-reductase. This enzyme is responsible for converting the male hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is necessary for enlargement of the prostate. By decreasing DHT levels, Proscar helps to shrink the prostate over time, relieving the enlarged prostate symptoms.
Proscar is not approved for the treatment of hair loss. Propecia®, which contains the same active ingredient as Proscar, is licensed for treating certain types of hair loss. The dose for Propecia, however, is significantly lower than the dose for Proscar.
(Click Proscar and Hair Loss for more information.)
Proscar has not been adequately studied in children and is not approved for use in children. Because Proscar affects certain hormones, the benefits of Proscar in children may not be worth the risks.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend Proscar for treating something other than the condition(s) discussed above. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, there are a few off-label Proscar uses, such as:
- Treatment of prostate cancer after surgical removal of the prostate
- Treatment of hirsutism in women (excess body and facial hair).