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

Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Rotterdam, South Holland, 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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