Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects Can Last For Years [Study]

Prostate cancer treatments have side effects that could be seen (and felt) for years after the treatments are over, according to a new study published in the Journal of Urology.

Market Watch reports that the study found that men who have treatments for prostate cancer have double the chance of needing a urinary incontinence procedure within 15-years after a radical prostatectomy treatment. The risk increases significantly with patient age, radiation after treatment, and low surgeon volume.

Dr. Robert Nam, lead investigator, urological oncologist, and head of the Genitourinary Cancer Care team at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre, stated:

“We hope these findings will help patients and their physicians have a more informed discussion about the treatment decision and potential implications for long term impact on quality of life.”

The study included 25,346 men who underwent radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer between 1993 and 2006, and was the first long-term study done regarding prostate cancer treatments and their effects on male incontinence.

Reuters reports that of the 25,346 men in the study, more than 500 men with cancer (including cancers caught through regular screening) ended up with bladder control problems and sexual function issues for up to 10 years after their treatment, when compared to those with no cancer diagnosis.

Mass News Media reports that the side effects are significantly better than actually having cancer, the issue is more complicated than that. Prostate cancer is slow-growing, and may never actually reach the point of being fatal. Also, studies have yet to find evidence that PSA tests (used to screen men for prostate cancer) are effective in saving lives.

According to Mass New Media, there are also high rates of false positives, and side effects from the testing as well as treatment, if it is necessary. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force advises against the screening for these reasons. They also note that more than 95% off men affected by prostate cancer had some degree of sexual dysfunction from the treatments, and more than half have urinary issues.

Past studies have had similar results, but the one done by Dr. Nam and his team is the first large-scale study to show the same results of effects by prostate cancer treatments.