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Prostate Cancer Survivors Need Sexual “Support”

Prostate Cancer Survivors Need Sexual “Support”Most men experience sexual problems, especially erectile dysfunction (ED), after prostate cancer treatment. But for many, these problems aren’t addressed by doctors, according to a recent survey of men in the United Kingdom.

Prostate cancer treatments can affect a man’s sexual function in a number of ways. The prostate gland itself is surrounded by nerves that help make erections happen. Unfortunately, surgery and radiotherapy can damage these nerves, and ED follows.

Hormonal therapy can take a toll as well. Hormones called androgens spur the growth of prostate cancer cells. Limiting this fuel can slow down the cancer, but one hormone, testosterone, is essential for men’s sex drive and erections. When levels drop, sexual function is often compromised.

Almost 36,000 men with prostate cancer took part in the survey, answering questions about their experiences with urinary incontinence, sexual function, daily living, pain, anxiety, depression, and quality of life. The men’s median age was 71 years, and the survey was completed from 18 to 24 months following their cancer diagnosis.

Overall, 81% of the men reported having poor erections, which were most common in men with advanced disease. About 45% of the men said sexual problems caused them distress.

Hormonal treatment was associated with the highest rate of sexual dysfunction at 94%, followed by surgery (84%), and radiotherapy (79%).

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