Article

Sexual (dys)function after radiotherapy for prostate cancer: a review.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam (EMCR), The, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
International Journal of Radiation OncologyBiologyPhysics (Impact Factor: 4.18). 04/2002; 52(3):681-93. DOI: 10.1016/S0360-3016(01)02727-4
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Prostate cancer has become the most common nonskin malignant neoplasm in older men in Western countries. As treatment efficacy has improved, issues related to posttherapy quality of life and sexual functioning have become more important.
We discuss the various methods used to evaluate erectile and sexual dysfunction and the definition of potency. The etiologies of erectile dysfunction after external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy for prostate cancer are also reviewed. The literature is summarized, and comparative studies of radiation and surgery are surveyed briefly.
Rates of erectile dysfunction vary from 6 to 84% after external beam radiotherapy and from 0 to 51% after brachytherapy. In most of the studies, the analysis is retrospective, the definition of erectile dysfunction is not clear, only one question about sexual functioning is asked, and nonvalidated instruments are used. The etiology of erectile dysfunction after radiation for prostate cancer is not completely understood.
Because erectile function is only one component of sexual function, it is necessary to assess sexual desire, satisfaction, frequency of intercourse, and other such factors when evaluating the effects of therapy. Patients should be offered sexual counseling and informed about the availability of effective treatments for erectile dysfunction, such as sildenafil, intracavernosal injection, and vacuum devices.

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    ABSTRACT: Between 1978 and 1998, 533 prostate adenocarcinoma patients were treated with mixed photon-neutron radiotherapy. We report on a retrospective series of patients for whom the side effects of the treatment and their impact on quality of life were assessed by a mailed questionnaire.Methods and materialsThe European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality-of-life core questionnaire and a prostate-specific questionnaire were used. Between 1990 and 1996, 308 consecutive patients were treated. Two protocols were used: pelvic fields (50 Gy equivalent photons, 2 Gy/fraction) followed by a prostate boost (66 Gy) or prostate alone. The neutron/photon ratio varied. The questionnaire was mailed to 262 patients presumed to be alive.ResultsOf the 262 patients, 230 replied. Of the 230 patients, 73% had no trouble doing strenuous activities and 4% had trouble with taking a short walk. The overall physical condition and quality-of-life questions received a mean score of 5.2 and 5.3 on a 7-point scale, respectively. Twenty-two percent had bowel movements at least four times daily, and 6% did so six times or more. Retaining stool was a problem in 26%, and only 38% reported full continence; 17% urinated four times or more nightly. Urinary incontinence was scored as “quite a bit” or “very much” in 11% and 5%, respectively. Hematuria and dysuria (pain) were reported by 7% and 16%, respectively, mainly as moderate. Only 28% reported easy erections, but 75% judged the sexual change acceptable. A greater neutron/photon ratio was significantly associated with more bowel problems (p = 0.003).Conclusion Mixed photon-neutron therapy for prostate cancer was associated with significant patient-reported side effects. Their significant effect on patients' quality of life is described.
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