Life after prostate surgery worse than men expect

Jun 30, 2011, 2:23 p.m.

The inability to get an erection is one of the more common side effects from prostate cancer surgery, though some men are eligible for a "nerve sparing" procedure, which leaves intact the nerves that control erections.

A different study, published in the same issue of the Journal of Urology as Wittmann's, found that when patients were educated about the risks and benefits of nerve sparing, and then given the power to choose the type of procedure, they were likely to make choices similar to their surgeons'.

In this case, the men participated in both a routine, pre-operative counseling session as well as a separate appointment with a surgeon to discuss the risks and benefits of each procedure.

Krupski said additional pre-operative visits would be beneficial, but are generally not covered by insurance plans.

She said that a network of men who have been through the experience and can support new cancer patients might help them understand the realities of life after surgery.

Wittmann said that involving patients' partners is also vital to successfully regaining sexual relationships.

"Sex is a partnered activity for most people. The partner can be very effective as part of an intimate team recovering from the side effects of this surgery," she told Reuters Health.

The study did not examine whether men would make a different treatment decision given their hindsight after the surgery.

Wittmann said she thinks only a small proportion of men would choose not to have surgery if they fully understood the potential for erectile dysfunction, because there are other cancer-related reasons that drive their decision.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/izjfw4 The Journal of Urology, June 15, 2011.

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