Sex After Prostate Cancer


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. While treatments can be very successful for this form of cancer, they can also leave patients with unwanted side effects like erectile dysfunction. Now, an innovative procedure may be the breakthrough many men have waited for.

About one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lives. And after 65, that number jumps to six in ten. While surgery is often an effective treatment, it can leave men with an embarrassing problem: erectile dysfunction.

Richard Gaines, MD, Preventative Medicine says, “There’s a little taboo to it, much less so than twenty years ago, but there’s still a sense of it being uncomfortable. Doctors are uncomfortable asking their patients about it.”

Standard surgery known as a “nerve-sparing” prostatectomy removes the prostate and seminal vesicles. Studies have shown about half of men who can have an erection before surgery won’t maintain this ability long-term. Drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra can help, but they won’t fix the problem.

“These are just band-aids,” continued Dr. Gaines.

Now, Australian doctors have performed a breakthrough procedure that seems to reverse erectile dysfunction. The “end-to-side” surgery involves removing the sural nerve from the patient’s leg and grafting it to the side of the femoral nerve in the thigh so that the new fibers grow into spongy tissue in the penis. In a study of 17 patients who had a prostatectomy, 71 percent had their erectile function restored and two participants achieved their first erection in 12 years! A novel procedure that could be a game-changer for many men in the future.

The only side effects reported with this new procedure were two minor wound infections and three patients with temporary weakness in their quadriceps. Researchers say this technique is much less invasive than penile prosthesis surgery.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: One in nine American men will have prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men and is the most commonly diagnosed. The American Cancer Society estimates that 174,650 men will be told they have prostate cancer in 2019, and currently there are nearly 3.1 million American men living with the disease. Finding prostate cancer when it is still at an early stage offers the best hope for living cancer free. Approximately 60 percent of cases are diagnosed in men over 65. The average age of diagnosis is 66. The disease rarely occurs before age 40. Most prostate cancers, around 90 percent, are found when the disease is confined to the prostate and nearby organs. This is referred to as the local or regional stage. The most recent research shows the five-year survival rate for all men with prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent. The relative 10-year survival rate is 98 percent, and 96 percent for 15 years.

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TREATMENT AND SEX LIFE: Following surgery, many men experience erectile dysfunction (ED), but for many, the disruption is temporary. A nerve-sparing prostatectomy may reduce the chances of nerve damage. Prostate cancer may also be treated with various types of radiation therapy such as brachytherapy, external beam radiation or stereotactic body radiation therapy. About half of all prostate cancer patients who undergo any of these types of radiation therapy are likely to develop erectile dysfunction. The goal of hormone therapy is to reduce the level of male hormones in the body, or to stop them from fueling prostate cancer cells. Hormone therapy may cause a loss of libido (sex drive) for some but not all patients. Chemotherapy drugs are used to kill cancer cells or limit their growth. Some patients may lose their sex drive and have difficulty achieving an erection after chemotherapy. With all prostate cancer treatments, the patient’s age and overall health will influence his ability to return to an active sex life after treatment.


NEW TREATMENT OFFERS HOPE: A breakthrough in stem cell research in Europe has given men left with erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery the chance to enjoy normal intercourse again. In early clinical trials, eight out of 15 incontinent men suffering from erectile dysfunction were able to have sex six months after undergoing a one-time stem cell treatment. “Fifty-three percent of the men have kept the ability to have sex after one year without having to use drugs or implants and other devices,” said lead researcher and professor, Dr. Lars Lund, at Odense University Hospital in Denmark. Researchers remove fat cells from a patient’s abdomen via liposuction. Then, the cells undergo a brief treatment and are turned into all-purpose stem cells, meaning they are able to mutate into nearly any cell in the body. Dr. Lund says the study is the first-of-its-kind to inject stem cells directly into the penis with a syringe. There, the cells begin to transform into nerve and muscle cells, as well as endothelial cells that line blood vessels. The next step will be to perform a randomized controlled trial of the treatment. Participants will be randomly assigned one of several clinical interventions alongside a control group. While the research is still in its early stages, the results so far have already showed promise.


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Gary Grasso