Surgery, RT For Prostate Cancer May Lead To Similar Impotence Rates.
Bloomberg News (1/31, Langreth) reports, “Only 10 percent of men treated for early prostate cancer could sustain an erection sufficient for sex 15 years later, according to a study that found impotence rates were the same whether treatment was surgery or radiation.” For the study, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, investigators “repeatedly surveyed 1,655 men diagnosed with localized disease and given surgery or external beam radiation.”
The AP (1/31) reports, “After 15 years, 18 percent of the surgery group and 9 percent of the radiation group reported urinary incontinence, and 5 percent of the surgery group and 16 percent of the radiation group said they were bothered by bowel problems.” Meanwhile, “impotence was ‘near universal’ at 15 years, the authors write — 94 percent of the radiation group and 87 percent of the surgery group.” The AP points out that “the National Cancer Institute paid for the study.”
In the NBC News (1/30) “Vitals” blog, NBC Chief Science and Health Correspondent Robert Bazell writes, “A rational argument is that such side effects are acceptable if the treatment is saving lives. But the paper raises serious doubts.” Senior author Dr. David Penson said in an interview, “So many of these men have low-risk disease that probably doesn’t need to be treated.”
The Tennessean (1/30, Wilemon) quotes Dr. Penson as saying, “The reality of it is both” surgery and radiation therapy “cause a whole heck of a lot of side effects.”
Modern Healthcare (1/30, McKinney, Subscription Publication) reports, “Because prostate cancer treatments have varying success rates and because choosing to do nothing — also known as ‘watchful waiting’ — has gained ground as a viable option, the disease is a prime example of the benefits of patient engagement and shared decisionmaking…said” Dr. Matthew Resnick, the study’s lead author. Also covering the story are HealthDay (1/31, Storrs), MedPage Today (1/31, Bankhead), and Medscape (1/31, Lowry).